Where is town tipping point?

The site of the proposed homes at Hauxley View.
The site of the proposed homes at Hauxley View.

For the third month in a row, councillors are being asked to approve new housing in Amble, which would take the number of new homes signed off to close to 1,000.

One of the key talking points is the pressure on the town’s infrastructure, which means financial contributions from the developer are again to be sought on this latest scheme – Hauxley View, for up to 166 homes west of the A1068.

It follows up to 772 homes, split between two bids, being approved by the county council in the past two months.

In September, an outline application, by Hindmarsh Homes, for up to 500 homes on land to the south and south-east of James Calvert Spence College, off Acklington Road, was approved by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.

The scheme had previously gone before the July meeting, but members voted to defer the decision for a site visit, mainly due to concerns over the access.

Then, in October, Cheviot Holdings was given the green light unanimously for its bid, also in outline, for up to 272 homes on land north-east of Amble Sewage Treatment Works, off Percy Drive.

Now, a third outline plan – and the second by Cheviot Holdings – the 166 homes at Hauxley View, is recommended for approval at Tuesday night’s meeting of the planning committee.

In all three cases, the potential pressure on the town’s infrastructure is acknowledged and therefore the planning permissions are subject to financial contributions to healthcare, education, sport and ecological mitigation.

For the Acklington Road scheme, the exact figures weren’t given as they are subject to further negotiation.

However, at last month’s meeting, the deal struck between the council and the developers was revealed – £2million for the town’s schools, £187,800 for GP facilities, £230,000 for sports facilities and £163,000 for ecological mitigation.

For the proposals to be decided on Tuesday, once again the ‘final details and sums are still to be determined’, but there is ‘broad agreement in principle with the applicant’.

However, to give an idea of what is being discussed, the council’s education team has called for £435,600, while the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has requested £112,500 for GP provision.

Most people recognise the need for more housing and, in particular, homes that are affordable, so the key question for the people of Amble is whether the balance is right.

Across the three schemes, 938 houses would be built, but this would include 94 homes for social rent and 47 to be sold at discount market value, and developers would provide a multimillion-pound package towards services in Amble.

Will residents think it a fair deal?