A new home at Cambois has been given the go-ahead after councillors rejected the planners’ view that the site was in the open countryside.
Plans for the construction of a two-storey house and detached garage, between Berristock and Debdon House, were recommended for refusal at last Wednesday night’s (March 13) Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council.
But members unanimously backed the scheme, as they did not consider it was in the open countryside, that it was on previously developed brownfield land and that a refusal – saying development was unsuitable in this area – would essentially split Cambois in two.
The ward councillor, Jeff Gobin, and East Bedlington Parish Council had both supported the application as well.
Coun Brian Gallacher said: “If this applicant didn’t build his house there, what else is going to go there? You are going to end up with a patch of wasteland.”
Coun Grant Davey added: “I would like to see Cambois rebuilt as a very lively village.”
The planning officer’s recommendation was based on the fact that the site is outside the settlement boundary as defined in the Wansbeck District Local Plan and therefore is considered open countryside, despite the plot having houses on either side and the remnants of the rail yard behind.
Referring to the other positive elements in the report, Coun Jeff Reid said: “The only reason you don’t want it is because somebody drew a boundary line where no one thinks it should be.”
Principal planning officer Judith Murphy agreed that it was ‘a matter of principle on this one’.
Coun Davey asked why this splitting of Cambois by the settlement boundary didn’t apply when Banks Property was granted planning permission for hundreds of homes in this area – 323 homes, plus retail and medical facilities, were approved in May 2012.
Ms Murphy explained that the Banks application ‘was almost a little town of its own and there was much more going on there other than housing that would have outweighed the harm of it not being within the settlement boundary’.
Later in the meeting, Coun Davey referred to the major Energy Central development around the nearby Blyth Estuary, saying: “If you don’t think Banks is going to build those houses there to serve that industrial site, then I will show my backside in Fenwick’s window!”
The approval is subject to overcoming an objection from the council’s public protection team over contaminated land; the applicant must carry out investigations and then remediation if required before the house can be built.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service