Blyth housing plans remain up in the air

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.

There is still no final decision on plans for 42 new homes at the entrance to Blyth, despite two lengthy debates and a visit to the site.

At Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s planning committee, members were expected to make a decision on the development at Newsham North Farm, next to the football club, off South Newsham Road.

The committee had already discussed the scheme, which would require the demolition of the farmhouse and outbuildings on the site, at its June meeting before opting to go for a site visit.

But after more than an hour’s debate and questioning of the planning officers on Tuesday, as well as the site visit the previous day, it was clear that councillors still had significant reservations about the proposals.

They accept that the site is suitable for housing and should be developed, and therefore voted by 11 to one to defer the scheme again to give the planning officers time to try to address the outstanding issues with the developers, Galliford Try, whose agent James Hall was at the meeting.

A major sticking point, as at the June meeting, is that the council’s public-protection team has objected as 17 of the homes, fronting onto South Newsham Road and Sandringham Drive, would require non-opening windows and mechanical ventilation due to noise levels.

Planning officer Ian Birkett explained that this objection was 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 – which was why the application was recommended for approval.

Another major concern is that the site will be built up behind a retaining wall in the north-east corner, which will adjoin the gardens of some of the properties on Herring Gull Close.

One of the residents, Mrs Lambert, said that ‘the roof of the nearest property will be more than 20 foot higher than the roof of my bungalow’ and that the development will lead to ‘devaluation of properties, flooding, possible subsidence and a lack of light, warmth and privacy’.

Mr Hall, on behalf of the applicants, explained that the plans had been amended since the last committee meeting in an attempt to address some of the concerns, with a change in property type in that corner leading to an increased separation distance of 18 metres from the nearest property to those on Herring Gull Close.

Coun Tony Reid said: “This site has to be developed, but it has to be developed in the right way.”

Coun Anthony Murray felt that deferral would not result in the changes they, or the neighbours, want.