Plans marked for approval to build two apartment blocks in grounds of Northumberland school

Plans for new blocks of flats by Morpeth’s high school could get the go-ahead next week, despite almost 120 objections from residents.

Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 11:05 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 5:58 pm
The site where the 18 flats are proposed to the south of King Edward VI High School in Morpeth. Picture from Google.

Ashford Residential’s application for two apartment blocks featuring 18 units, on a grassed area within the grounds of King Edward VI School, is recommended for approval at the Monday, December 7, meeting of the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council.

Ten flats would be provided in what would be called the north building and eight in the east building, with seven having two bedrooms and 11 being three-bedroomed.

An existing bungalow on the site, which is known as the Old Headmaster’s Lawn, would be demolished to enable access from Cottingwood Lane.

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The two blocks would each have four storeys, but the planning officer’s report to councillors explains that the bottom floor, which would be the same level as Cottingwood Lane, would be below the existing ground level of the majority of the site, and would provide undercroft parking.

Above this, the two blocks would appear as two-storey buildings with rooms in their roofs.

Nonetheless, the size of the buildings is among the concerns that have been raised by Morpeth Town Council and in 119 letters of objection. The proposals has sparked just one letter of support.

A range of other issues have been raised by opponents as well, not least the impact on congestion and road safety along Cottingwood Lane, but also flooding, design, overlooking, loss of privacy, loss of light/overshadowing, and the loss of green space.

A previous bid, lodged in 2012, for a block of 51 retirement flats on the site was rejected by the county council before a planning inspector upheld the refusal at appeal, agreeing that there were road-safety issues and that the block ‘would be detrimental to the character and appearance of the area’.

The planning officer’s report explains that ‘this current application, however, is designed very differently and positioned differently than that previously refused, which impacts on how the proposal would affect the amenity of nearby residents’.

It adds that ‘it is considered the residents at South Terrace would not be impacted upon in terms of loss of light, outlook or privacy, to any degree that would warrant refusal of this application.’

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