Concerns over housing bid on landmark site

Newsham North Farm off South Newsham Road which is subject to a planning application to demolish it and build new houses on the plot.
Newsham North Farm off South Newsham Road which is subject to a planning application to demolish it and build new houses on the plot.
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A decision has been deferred on plans for 42 new homes on the entrance to Blyth – a scheme described as a ‘golden opportunity missed’.

At a meeting on Tuesday, members of Northumberland County Council’s planning committee voted to go for a site visit before making a decision on the development at Newsham North Farm, off South Newsham Road.

The proposals would result in the demolition of the farmhouse and outbuildings on the site, which was just one of the issues which concerned the councillors on the committee.

One of the major sticking points was that the council’s public-protection team had objected as some of the homes fronting onto South Newsham Road and Sandringham Drive would require non-opening windows and mechanical ventilation due to noise levels.

Members also heard concerns from Dennis Graham, a resident of Herring Gull Close, whose property would back onto the north-east of the site.

He was critical of how the layout of the development, including a raised section of the site, would impact on his and his neighbours’ amenity as well as the risk of flooding from the Newsham Burn.

Planning officer Ian Birkett explained that the issues were balanced against the positives – the re-use of the site, six affordable homes and helping to meet the shortfall of housing supply in the area.

He added that there is an extant outline planning permission for 40 homes on the site anyway and any scheme based on this ‘fall-back’ position would also likely result in the loss of the farm buildings.

Earlier in the meeting, Jeff Reid, county councillor for the Plessey ward, said: “This is a key entrance to Blyth; I would rather have seen some care taken by the people building it to include some acknowledgement of that.

“There’s been a golden opportunity missed to have something special; this could have been a really spanking development.”

Coun Reid also expressed the concerns of Coun Lesley Rickerby, in whose South Blyth ward the site lies, which included over-development.

James Hall, of Barton Willmore, the agent acting for the developers, Galliford Try, said: “It’s a site that has had permission for some time and we have spent six months trying to get the right solution.”