Victory for plan, but is an appeal to come?

The site plan of the proposed redevelopment of Willowburn Trading Estate.
The site plan of the proposed redevelopment of Willowburn Trading Estate.

The new neighbourhood plan for Alnwick proved its muscle this week as a housing bid was rejected on a site designated as employment land.

The outline scheme for around 125 new homes on Willowburn Industrial Estate was refused unanimously by the county council’s strategic planning committee on Tuesday night.

The proposal, by Northern Commercial Properties, registered at the Estates Office at Alnwick Castle, and the Harris & Sheldon Group (the county council has now withdrawn as one of the applicants), was recommended for approval at the June meeting, but was deferred for a site visit.

However, in between that meeting and this month’s, the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan, which does not allow residential development on this site, passed referendum.

Planning officers explained that even though it has not yet been ‘made’, ‘it is afforded very significant weight in the determination of this application’ and therefore recommended refusal.

Speaking against the plans, Coun Gordon Castle said: “Who would bother having one (a neighbourhood plan) if this one falls at the first hurdle?”

Committee members agreed and, having been on a site visit, were also concerned about the fact that the housing development would be on a site which would retain some of its industrial units.

But refusal may not be the end of the story as agent Sandra Manson said that the comprehensive case which led to the county council agreeing to deallocate the site for employment use would support an appeal.