Anger as housing bid with access in garden approved

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Furious residents were left frustrated after plans for two homes behind another house in Bedlington were given the go-ahead.

Unhappy members of the public made their feelings known in the council chamber as the application, for land south-west of 21 Front Street East, was approved by 10 votes to three at last week’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s planning and rights of way committee.

A key bone of contention is that the proposed access to the two four-bedroom properties ‘bisects’ the garden of another house. However, the legality of the right of access is not a planning consideration, but a civil matter between the owner and the developer.

What’s more, a previous scheme, albeit for three homes not two, was refused and then upheld on appeal.

At the meeting, the council’s highways officer confirmed he had no objections to the scheme, based on numerous visits to the site, adding: “All the highways concerns have been addressed by the applicant.”

Coun Paul Kelly said: “I go down a narrow driveway to get to the rear of my property. I don’t own it, but I have a right of access. It’s a fairly common situation. I can’t see it would have a significant impact on either the neighbours or the highway.”

Coun Ian Swithenbank added: “The access is less than desirable, but every point has been answered very clearly by the planning and highways officers.”

But Coun Jeff Gobin replied: “The highways officer recommended it be approved last time and it was turned down. Nothing’s changed.”

Coun Andrew Tebbutt said: “Clearly, two houses compared to three is significant.

“Yes, it’s not an ideal one, but I tend to agree with Coun Swithenbank.

“Lots of situations are not ideal and our job as a planning committee is to decide what’s acceptable and what’s not, given the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework).”

Earlier in the meeting, objector Malcolm Wilson and Christine Taylor, of West Bedlington Parish Council, both spoke against the scheme and urged the councillors to go on a site visit.