Councillors turn down fresh bid to build dozens of homes on Northumberland site

Councillors have once again turned down a bid for around 40 new homes in a Northumberland village – but the final decision is out of their hands.

By Ben O'Connell
Saturday, 23rd November 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 2:25 pm
The site of the proposed homes in Longframlington.
The site of the proposed homes in Longframlington.

A second outline application for a site at the northern end of Longframlington, to the south of Lightpipe Farm, was recommended for approval at a meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.

But the committee voted by three votes to one, with one abstention, to refuse the scheme on the same grounds as they rejected it last time, despite a planning inspector already concluding that those reasons didn’t stack up.

At last August’s meeting of the local area council, planning officers had also recommended approval, but members disagreed, refusing the application by eight votes to zero (with one abstention) and saying that part of the village should not be ‘sacrificed’ to gain upgrades to the A697/C106 junction.

The junction of the A697 and the C106 Alnwick Fords road.

The applicants, Rosemary and Claire Armstrong, lodged an appeal, and this was dismissed by planning inspector Chris Baxter during the summer – but only due to a legal technicality.

The committee had refused the bid on the grounds of over-development, adverse character impact and the benefits of the junction upgrade not outweighing the environmental impact.

However, Mr Baxter concluded that the proposal ‘would not have a harmful effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding area’ and that ‘there is no overriding evidence before me to indicate that the proposal would have a significantly harmful environmental effect on the area’.

The reason that he still dismissed the appeal was because a completed section 106 legal agreement was not submitted, which is why a second application was lodged and the meeting was told that an agreement has now been signed.

To make the situation even more complicated, an appeal over this latest bid for non-determination – not dealing with the application quickly enough – has already been submitted, so the final decision will rest with a planning inspector.

Therefore, the recommendation was that members were minded to approve the application, subject to the completion of a section 106 agreement to secure £72,000 for education, £33,300 for healthcare and the provision of 17% affordable housing on site. The junction works would be subject to a separate agreement and secured by condition.

This is so that should the planning inspector give the green light, the council would request that this agreement and its proposed conditions be applied to the permission.

But Coun Wendy Pattison moved refusal for the same reasons as last time, particularly the adverse character impact.

Coun Jeff Watson disagreed, saying: “We are not being realistic, we are trying to push water uphill. Those reasons have been rejected by the inspector.”

However, Coun Georgina Hill said: “I think we should stand by our view.”

Coun Catherine Seymour added: “I know the section 106 has come forward now, but it’s still over-development.”