No confidence in decision

THE Gazette recently carried an article about a meeting of Northumberland County Council’s area planning committee north.

It included a story entitled Restoration of a New Doorway, which related to an application to create a new doorway in the south wing of Newton Hall.

I would have had more confidence in the committee’s decision to support the application had it not been for the following three issues.

First, my objection and that of Coun Trevor Thorne and Newton on the Moor and Swarland Parish Council, to the position of the proposed back door did not, in any way, threaten the very welcome restoration of that building.

I had hoped I had made it clear in my submission that at least one other possible location for the door existed, which would have been supported by the conservation officer.

At the meeting, one or two councillors appeared to have inferred, incorrectly, that not allowing the doorway, as per the application, could have jeopardised the very welcome restoration of this listed building.

However, the future of the south wing in no way depended on a back door being in that location.

Second, it was unfortunate that a representative of the planning department was not aware of at least one very important aspect of the case details. This meant that, when she was asked whether the old original opening had been a door or a window, she said that this was not known.

However, that was not true as the planning department had evidence that the opening had never been a door. I had supplied the representative’s colleague with a copy of an old internal plan of Newton Hall. This showed, unequivocally, that the opening had been a blocked-up window.

Third, the conservation officer, who was familiar with the case, was not present to advise members, a point that at least one councillor said was regrettable.

It was disappointing that certain aspects of the case that were crucial to my objection were apparently either misunderstood or not made known to the committee. I am not saying that this would have affected the committee’s decision but I would have felt more satisfied that my arguments had been given proper consideration.

Judith Draycott,

East Wing, Newton Hall