Plans for 167 new homes in Northumberland community look set for rejection

Stock picture by PAStock picture by PA
Stock picture by PA
A bid for scores of new homes on the south-western edge of Widdrington Station looks set to be turned down next week.

An outline application for up to 167 properties on land south of Grange Court, off Grange Road, is recommended for refusal at Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee meeting on Tuesday October 1.

Planners believe that the scheme by Harworth Estates, the property company which was originally an arm of UK Coal, would ‘give rise to the encroachment of built development into the open countryside’.

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This is because the site is outside the settlement boundary and would result in ‘significantly harmful localised landscape effects and visual effects upon nearby residents and road/footpath users’, according to the report to councillors.

Setting out the planning balance in his conclusion, planning officer Geoff Horsman accepts that there would be some economic benefits, but adds that the ‘proposed development is not considered to be necessary in order to meet overall housing need across both the county as a whole and within Widdrington Station locally, given that the council is able to demonstrate well in excess of a five-year housing land supply’.

Likewise, he states while the affordable homes which would be provided could be described as a social benefit, ‘there is the opportunity to deliver such housing’ on two nearby sites which already have consent.

A site further north on Grange Road has outline permission for 121 homes, with detailed plans for a total of 179 properties submitted at the start of the year, while the committee last month gave the nod to some changes which would still see 104 houses built on the former brickworks site at Stobswood.

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The report also states ‘it is considered that significantly harmful localised landscape and visual effects would arise’ if the development went ahead.

Additional reasons for the recommendation to refuse are that comprehensive archaeological trial trenching has not been carried out and that a section 106 legal agreement to secure developer contributions has not been completed.

However, on these latter issues, the report notes that the applicant has ‘confirmed that they are agreeable to’ a section 106 to provide 17% affordable housing (28 units), £116,400 for GP facilities, £142,500 for the parish council towards play facilities and the community centre and an ecology coastal mitigation contribution of £100,200 (£600 per unit).

The applicant has suggested that there should be a condition tied to planning permission to undertake the trial trenching, but the council’s archaeologist does not consider this to be acceptable, believing it should be done before consent is granted.