What does the future hold for north Northumberland’s towns?

Queen Street, Amble
Queen Street, Amble

Consultation on the final draft of a key document, which will dictate how Northumberland develops in the years to come, starts today.

The pre-submission draft of the core strategy, which sets out the council’s priorities for the future, including the creation of 10,000 jobs by 2031 and extending choice in the housing market, was approved by the authority’s cabinet a fortnight ago.

The map showing the key breakdown of Northumberland for the core strategy.

The map showing the key breakdown of Northumberland for the core strategy.

The Northumberland Local Plan, as it’s known, provides policies to control where development should take place, sitting beneath the Government’s overarching National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and above the more local Neighbourhood Plans, which are being developed by many communities.

All consultation documents are available to view at corestrategy.northumberland.gov.uk and a leaflet has been posted through every door in the county explaining the consultation and how to have your say.

The consultation closes at midnight on Wednesday, November 25.

Below, we take a look at the county council’s vision for Alnwick and Amble, both of which will continue to act as key hubs according to the core strategy and are listed among the 12 main towns in Northumberland.

Map showing the commercial centre of Alnwick.

Map showing the commercial centre of Alnwick.

There is only one other main town in the Northern Delivery Area – Berwick, but there are four communities of the tier below – service centres. These are Belford, Seahouses, Rothbury and Wooler. According to the draft document, Belford and Seahouses provide a range of services to support the local communities and the tourism industry. Seahouses is a key hub for visitors to the north Northumberland coast and the Farne Islands.

Rothbury is the largest settlement in western Coquetdale with its services supporting its resident population and those people who live in the more remote villages, including those in the Northumberland National Park. The village acts as a gateway to the park for visitors and has important relationships with Alnwick and Morpeth.

Wooler has an important relationship with both Berwick and Alnwick and is a local hub for services for its satellite communities. It is also a gateway for visitors to the northern part of the National Park. It has a working mart and is also the location for an important cluster of agricultural engineering and construction companies.

It is proposed that 4,190 homes would be built in the Northern Delivery Area over the lifetime of the plan (2011 to 2031), or 210 a year.

Map showing the commercial centre of Amble.

Map showing the commercial centre of Amble.

Outside the main towns, this would be distributed as 230 in Belford, 230 in Seahouses, 200 in Rothbury, 280 in Wooler and 1,250 across the rest of the delivery area.

But the core strategy is about much more than housing with chapters on the green belt; conserving and enhancing Northumberland’s distinctive and valued natural, historic, water and built environments; ensuring connectivity and infrastructure delivery; community well-being; and managing natural resources.

ALNWICK

Role as a main town: Will continue to act as a key hub for housing, employment, education, healthcare, retail, transport and tourism, will be the main focus for development to underpin its social, economic, environmental and cultural regeneration.

Housing: The proposed requirement for additional homes between April 2011 and March 2031 – around 1,100 over the plan period (55 per year).

Employment: Additional employment land allocations over and above existing available land – 10 hectares (the town has successful industrial estates but at least 10 hectares of new land will be allocated for business uses. There are a number of options for the location of this additional land, therefore the location and allocation will be determined in the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan).

Town centre: Falls into the top level of the hierarchy of town centres, being a ‘main commercial centre’ with a good level of retail provision along with town centre community facilities. It is reasonably well provided for in terms of accessibility by public transport and has a good level of off-street car parking. It acts as a community hub for a large population covering the town and its wide rural hinterland. This role along with its vitality and viability as a centre will be protected and enhanced through policy. There is limited scope for retail and leisure expansion within the historic centre.

Key Issues: The town is constrained by a strong historic core and strong surrounding landscapes, making future expansion of housing employment and services challenging.

The emerging Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan is a comprehensive plan containing proposals and allocations designed to address the town’s needs. Ongoing dialogue with the town council will ensure that the two plans are successfully aligned.

While the town has a dual-carriageway bypass, there remains an issue of the lack of a dual carriageway on the A1 further south which adds to its remoteness from Tyneside. The Core Strategy supports such a scheme.

There are issues with some highway junctions in the town itself, where the A1068 meets the A1 – to be addressed through the infrastructure delivery plan.

The Core Strategy also supports the possible reopening of the Aln Valley Railway, which would not only provide a new visitor attraction, but would also open a transport corridor between Alnwick and the East Coast Main Line at Alnmouth.

AMBLE

Role as a main town: Will continue to act as a key hub for housing, employment, education, healthcare, retail, transport and tourism, will be the main focus for development to underpin its social, economic, environmental and cultural regeneration.

Housing: The proposed requirement for additional homes between April 2011 and March 2031 – around 600 over the plan period (30 per year).

Town centre: Falls into the second level of the hierarchy of town centres, being a ‘smaller commercial centre’ with good local retail provision along with a reasonable range of town-centre community facilities, serving the town itself and with a modest rural hinterland. This role along with its vitality and viability as a centre will be protected through policy.

Key Issues: The recent closure of Northumberland Foods has had an impact upon the community and supply chains locally.

Continues to be an important coastal community in social and economic terms, retaining connections with the sea for employment and commerce.

Key opportunities as a visitor attraction at the southern end of the Northumberland Coast AONB.

Currently poor access to waste recycling facilities which the Core Strategy seeks to improve.

Close to a number of international nature conservation protections running along the coastal and estuary areas, which could constrain some forms of development.