Plans approved for 'fantastic development' with 300 homes in Northumberland, between Choppington and Guide Post

Looking towards the site. Picture c/o Google Streetview.Looking towards the site. Picture c/o Google Streetview.
Looking towards the site. Picture c/o Google Streetview.
Plans for more than 300 new homes in a Northumberland village have been approved for the third time.

The application, for 327 houses on land by Whinney Farm Cottages, between Choppington and Guide Post, was given the go-ahead by 11 votes to zero, with one abstention, at Tuesday’s (March 3) meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.

The committee first approved the bid in March 2017, before it was reassessed in September following the withdrawal of the core strategy. It was looked at again this time in the wake of changes to the national planning rulebook and following the resolution of outstanding issues.

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Since 2017, Ascent Homes, the house-building arm of the council-owned company Advance Northumberland, has taken over as the applicant, but the viability issues with the site, mainly related to land contamination and highways, remain.

The scheme should provide 56 affordable homes, £2.241million for education and £196,200 for ecology, but it can provide none of this, based on a new viability report, which the council had independently assessed.

However, a section 106 legal agreement will secure a ‘review claw-back mechanism’, which will see the development’s viability re-assessed on an ongoing basis to see if contributions can be made.

Ascent’s senior land manager, Rob Murphy, described the proposed development as having a ‘high-quality layout which incorporates a green corridor through the site’ and said that the new roundabout to serve the estate would also help slow traffic on the A1068.

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He added that the company has submitted an external funding bid to support some of the infrastructure works and, if successful, with indications good so far, then 27 affordable homes will be included in phase one.

Coun Trevor Thorne moved approval ‘reluctantly’, saying he accepted the viability assessment, but ‘as a planner, I ask myself who is going to pay for the impact on healthcare, education and ecology’.

Coun Barry Flux described the application as ‘rotten’ and the lack of contributions as ‘shoddy’, while Coun Les Bowman also expressed disappointment, but added: “I can see this being a fantastic development and a lovely place to live.”

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