A long-running saga over new homes in Alnwick looks to have ended after the council-owned developer was successful in overturning a refusal.
Ascent Homes’ second bid for the Allerburn House site, which was originally thrown out by county councillors in the first half of last year, has now been approved on appeal.
Planning permission has therefore been given for the refurbishment of the lodge, the conversion of Allerburn House – the former HQ of Alnwick District Council – into three apartments, the demolition of ad-hoc extensions and the erection of 14 new-build units, including six three-storey townhouses.
Ascent, which is the house-building arm of Northumberland County Council’s development company Advance Northumberland, formerly Arch, was first given permission for a scheme at the site back in January 2017 – and work is well under way on what is being called Allerburn Gate.
These plans, to convert the house and other buildings on the site as well as creating 10 new homes, were largely supported in the town and sparked very little opposition.
However, in late 2017, Ascent attempted to get changes approved by varying the original planning permission, but was told by the county council that it would have to submit a separate application.
Lodged in February last year, planning officers recommended approval when it went before the North Northumberland Local Area Council in April, but members unanimously rejected the scheme.
As well as the appeal, a third set of proposals, which retained the contentious townhouse element but featured some ‘tiny tweaks and minor amendments’, were submitted before they too were unanimously turned down in November.
At that meeting, Coun Gordon Castle said: “Ascent already has planning permission which is not only superior, but has the support of local people and the town council.”
However, the company can now progress its preferred plans, with the controversial townhouses and the demolition of the modern extensions to Allerburn House.
The conclusion of the appeal decision by planning inspector Andrew McCormack, which was published on Friday (December 28), said: ‘The proposed development would result in an appropriate re-use of a redundant building and its surrounding area which is adjacent to an established residential area.
‘While the proposed scheme would inevitably have a visual impact for neighbouring occupiers, the nature, scale, massing, layout and general design of the proposed scheme would result in no material harm to residential amenity.
‘Furthermore, the scheme would protect and enhance the setting of Allerburn House as a non-designated heritage asset.
‘It would also provide a range of housing types within the locality in an appropriate and reasonable location which would be accessible to local services and facilities.
‘Therefore, with all matters considered, I conclude these benefits outweigh the very limited harm which would likely result from the proposal.’
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service