Second chance for affordable homes offer

The proposed housing site in Sharperton.
The proposed housing site in Sharperton.

Councillors may elect to save an offer for affordable homes in a tiny village, as the plans return to the table tonight after a site visit.

Ralph Holmes is prepared to sell three plots for £1 to Northumberland County Council if it allows him to build a three-bedroom stone-and-slate house for

himself at Sharperton in Upper Coquetdale, where he has lived for 25 years.

At the meeting of the north area planning committee earlier this month, members voted to go for a site visit before making a decision.

The deal was described by ward councillor Steven Bridgett as a unique proposition, but council staff were going to use their delegated powers to turn it down.

At that meeting, councillors voted to visit the site before discussing the proposal. They were advised by senior planning officer Neil Armstrong to refuse permission because Sharperton was an ‘unsustainable’ village, lacking services apart from school buses.

But suggesting the visit, Coun Trevor Thorne said the new national planning framework allowed groups of settlements to be considered together when measuring sustainability and in this case, Harbottle is just 1.4 miles away.

Members are due to make a decision at tonight’s meeting of the planning committee.