Controversial housing plans to be discussed

Plans have been submitted to build over 500 homes on land near West Hartford.
Plans have been submitted to build over 500 homes on land near West Hartford.

Plans for a major housing scheme between Cramlington and Bedlington are to be discussed at a council meeting.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is seeking outline planning permission for up to 501 homes north of the A192 at West Hartford.

Local residents are invited to hear a presentation on the scheme at Cramlington Town Council’s meeting on Thursday (March 22) at 6.15pm at Concordia Leisure Centre.

Matt Verlander, a planning consultant working for the applicant, will outline the case for the application.

Town clerk Bob Baker said: “The town council has already lodged its strong objection on the grounds that the proposal lies outside Cramlington’s settlement boundary and that there is already more than enough land available for new housing to meet demand up to 2031.

“The council fears that this application will eat further into open countryside and threaten to physically join Cramlington with Bedlington.”

He added that the proposed site is allocated as open countryside in the draft Neighbourhood Plan.

The draft Cramlington Neighbourhood Plan has provisionally identified housing allocations for 4,300 new homes to 2031 based on allocations within the Blyth Valley Core Strategy and extant planning permissions. The withdrawn Northumberland core strategy had identified a requirement of 3,800, which is subject to review.

The town council believes a further 501 units in Cramlington would consequently mean land availability for 4,800 dwellings against a target of 3,800 and would place significant pressure on existing facilities such as schools, public transport and health care.

The West Hartford Business Park was originally owned by One North East (ONE) which promoted it and carried out relevant items of work, including the development of a masterplan for the site in support of an outline planning application.

The site was transferred to Onsite in 2009 prior to the dissolution of ONE in 2011. No further development was carried out on the site during this period.

In late 2014 it was transferred to the HCA.

There has been ongoing dialogue on the application with Northumberland County Council since June 2015 regarding the potential for and principle of development on the site.

The HCA, in a report by Arup accompanying the planning application, say the vision for the site is to deliver a high-quality residential led development that integrates with surrounding communities and maximises the site’s existing assets.

‘The proposed scheme provides a high-quality residential community to the north of Cramlington,’ they say. ‘The northern half of the site is retained as natural habitat with green corridors running through the residential development to connect through to the south.

‘The masterplan demonstrates a layout which accommodates 501 family homes, shown as two to five-bed terraced, semi-detached and detached houses.’

The site is bounded by the River Blyth to the north, the A192 to the south, an access road to the west leading to West Hartford Farm and Cottages, and fields to the east.

The Northumberland Fire and Rescue Headquarters and a Fire Station occupy one plot at the entrance to the site.