Row over link between housing plans and Alnmouth Station parking needs

A developer has sought to justify the need for more parking at a north Northumberland station, which forms part of its contoversial proposals for dozens of new homes.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 8:51 am

But a resident has described the efforts, which include a letter signed by representatives of Network Rail, Northern and LNER, as ‘a bit crass’, describing it as ‘a win-win for the (developer) and the train company’ at a cost to ‘residents down-stream’.

In November 2018, the Northumberland Estates revealed two new proposals, one for up to 60 homes near Alnmouth Station, in Hipsburn, and the other for around 40 homes to the north of Lesbury.

An outline planning application for the Hipsburn scheme, featuring an extra car park and bus terminal/stop for the station, and another for around 41 homes on a site to be accessed from the B1339 Longhoughton Road, were lodged in December that year.

Alnmouth Railway Station

More than 150 objections have been lodged so far across both schemes.

In December 2019, the Estates submitted a new 12-page document setting out the strategic requirement for the additional facilities at the station.

This came on the back of a letter from the Estates and the rail companies to the council’s director of planning in September, which concluded: ‘Without additional car parking, existing problems will remain and will be compounded by year-on-year growth in demand from rail users, reducing the capacity of the station to act as an essential, sustainable public transport hub for north Northumberland’.

The report adds that ‘there is a strong strategic justification and evidence for the proposed development’s delivery of enhanced car parking and bus facility’ given that ‘there are no plans or scope to deliver additional facilities at the station beyond the proposed development’ and that ‘Northumberland County Council has attempted to address the congestion and car-parking capacity issues at Alnmouth Station, which continue to be an issue, and has no further options to provide additional capacity’.

However, resident Daniel Cave said: “If more parking is required, then it is the duty of the rail companies, who will profit from it, to pay for parking facilities.

“I’ve proposed this letter is removed from the planning process.”

In May 2019, it was confirmed that the company, which represents the Duke of Northumberland’s business interests, was proposing that the development near the railway station would provide 20% affordable housing, in line with the county council’s requirements, but also half of the properties for sale on the open market would be restricted to permanent residents only.

Meanwhile, the Lesbury development would be 50% affordable housing, which, by definition, is for permanent occupancy and is allocated based on need, with some priority given to local people.

Last February, we reported that details for a new roundabout at the junction of the A1068 Lesbury Road and Curly Lane had been put forward, while the site layout for the Hipsburn proposal had also been amended in response to concerns – with neither proving popular among those objecting.