700-home estate on the way for town

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A MASSIVE new housing estate looks set to be built in Cramlington.

County councillors say they are minded to approve the construction of 706 properties south of Beacon Hill, subject to agreement over details.

However, that decision needs to be confirmed by the government because the council owns the land earmarked for the estate.

How much money Northumberland County Council would make if the houses are built and how the proceeds would be used have yet to be determined.

A council spokeswoman said: “There is still a lot of detail to be discussed and negotiated before any land sale is agreed.”

The estate would include affordable housing, but the exact proportion is still subject to negotiation.

County council officers will be seeking up to 30 per cent, a figure backed by Cramlington Town Council.

Members of the council’s south east area planning committee welcomed the scheme, submitted by Newcastle’s Barratt North East and Doncaster-based Keepmoat, at their meeting in Choppington last week.

Planning officer John Dowsett said: “It’s clearly a major application for the town and for south east Northumberland as a whole.”

He added that demand for housing in Cramlington had vastly outstripped supply in recent years.

The plans is to build 20 one-bedroom properties, 140 with two bedrooms, 421 with three bedrooms, 121 with four bedrooms and four with five bedrooms.

It is estimated that 105 houses a year have been built in Cramlington since 2006, less than half the 262 envisaged in the core strategy drawn up for Blyth Valley.

A market assessment commissioned by the county council estimates the need for new homes in the Cramlington area at 378 a year for five years, the meeting heard.

Concerns have been voiced about a lack of paths for pedestrians and cyclists.

National cycling organisation Sustrans said: “The proposed developments are far from imaginative and provide little or no real connectivity between Cramlington’s existing and superb greenway network.”

Coun Wayne Daley said the trend in Cramlington for building housing estates without footpaths was forcing young families into cars for safety’s sake and “just plain stupid”.

He was told sharing roads was supposed to encourage careful driving.

Concern voiced by neighbouring farmer Stephen Forster about frequent flooding of the site was echoed by councillors, but they were assured a system of ponds would solve that problem.

Any agreement on the sale of the land is expected to include road improvements and upgrades to the Moor Farm and Seaton Burn roundabouts.

The council is considering two other applications for land nearby, both mixed-use developments.