The application for 37 homes to the south of Belford was approved by 10 votes to one at the Thursday, October 1, meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.
Permission has been granted for a mix of 27 self-build plots and 10 affordable homes, on land south of Rogerson Road.
The proposed self-build mix is eight three-bedroom houses, 13 four-bedroom properties and six five-bedroom dwellings, while the affordable homes would feature three two-bedroom houses, three three-bedroom properties and four two-bedroom bungalows.
In its written submission to the meeting – the first time the committee had met since February – Belford Parish Council has raised a number of concerns including the lack of services in the village, access, flooding, potential loss of privacy for the Rogerson Road bungalows and pressure on GP facilities.
It also called for free transport for those children who go to the Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick, as currently it only applies for those going to the catchment school – Berwick Academy, but planning officer Tony Lowe said this would not be appropriate to require from the developer and is a matter for the county council.
Eleven neighbours had also objected, although there were four letters of support as well.
A statement on behalf of the applicants said that they believe the proposal ‘will make a positive contribution to Belford’.
“It’s our vision to deliver a high-quality development which enhances the village for the benefit of both existing and future residents,” they added.
There were questions from councillors on a number of issues, but the main talking point during the debate was about the delivery of the affordable homes.
Members were keen for this to be delivered as soon as possible, although there were some concerns that requiring it in the first phase would result in the ‘ghettoisation’ of these properties.
However, in this case, it was pointed out that given the other plots are self-build, it could take ‘years and years’ for the development to be built out.
Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, the area’s ward councillor, was the only member to vote against the scheme.
“The affordable housing has to come first,” he said. “Speaking to local people going back months and months, affordable housing is something that they want.
“The proposed changes to South Road, which is the former A1 and has a 60mph limit right up to the village, will be quite welcome.
“I don’t like the self-build element. I think it has a place for the odd plot on a farm here or there, I don’t think it’s appropriate for entire housing estates.
“I also can’t ignore that it’s outside the settlement boundary, as chosen by the parish council (in the emerging neighbourhood plan) although I recognise that’s not a material planning consideration.”
Approval is subject to a section 106 legal agreement to secure the 10 affordable homes, £25,800 to support GP facilities, and a coastal mitigation contribution of £615 per unit, totalling £22,755.