Refusal recommended for homes on former school site

The former Cornhill First School.
The former Cornhill First School.

A decision is expected on another bid to build housing on a former school site in a north Northumberland village.

At last month’s meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council, members rejected a scheme for 30 new homes on the former Milfield County First School site, against the advice of planning officers.

This was because a majority of the committee agreed with Coun Robbie Moore, who said that the loss of open green space meant the development was not sustainable in social or environmental terms.

Tomorrow, the councillors are being recommended to refuse proposals by the same applicant, Gleeson Homes, to demolish the former Cornhill First School and build 23 homes on the site, off St Helen’s Gardens.

In this case, the loss of the open space is one of the reasons for refusal as the playing fields have ‘remained open and are well-used by the public’, whereas the ‘overgrown’ Milfield site had been closed off since 2009.

The other reasons for refusal are that it ‘would not reflect the local character or distinctiveness of Cornhill-On-Tweed, presenting development of an incongruous quantity, scale and overall design that would have an adverse impact on the historic rural village’, and insufficient information on ecology.

The application, for eight two-bedroom, semi-detached houses and 15 three bedroom properties (seven detached), sparked objections from the parish council, 22 residents and Sport England.

As well as the loss of the playing fields, issues raised included the potential for second homes, over-development, loss of amenity, highways safety, concerns over the access route, and drainage issues and flooding.

Cornhill First School, which was built in 1993, closed at the end of the academic year in the summer of 2012, with the roll having dropped to just one pupil.

The number of students on the register had fallen from 35 four years previously to only three in 2011, with 15 pupils from the catchment area enrolled in other schools.

The year after the school’s closure, Four Housing proposed building affordable homes on the site during a public consultation exercise, but no planning application was ever lodged.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service