Planning changes approved to help speed up construction of new homes

Fears for child safety almost derailed a builder’s bid to overhaul working conditions at a major housing development.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 10:47 am
Northumberland County Council's planning committee has approved an application to lengthen the delivery time at a housing development in New Delaval.

Barratt Homes was granted permission for its 285-home scheme at St Michaels Avenue, New Hartley, in 2017 on appeal, despite widespread opposition to the proposals.

And the firm faced another, ultimately successful, battle to approve a five-hour extension to the weekday window it has for deliveries to the construction site.

“I can see this just getting worse and at the forefront of my mind is residents’ amenity and highway safety,” Cllr Georgina Hill told Northumberland County Council’s Strategic Planning Committee.

“The simple fact is more vehicles or larger vehicles at times when schools nearby have children in, is, by definition, a highway safety issue.

“I think that we should stick to our guns, say this is the condition and you stick to it and if you need to work later or faster or do whatever you have to do then do it, but I don’t think we should kowtow to these people.”

Planning permission for the development was refused by county councillors in 2016, but later approved on appeal by a government inspector.

This included delivery hours set at 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

The bid to extend this to 8am to 6pm claimed the original schedule was “impeding the delivery of homes” as it meant building materials were not received until after the start of shifts on the site.

The application also cited comments by Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy about the need to speed up house-building, something which was described as “quite insulting to the [planning] committee” by Cllr Barry Flux.

Opposition to the amendment focused on the impact it could have on traffic in the area, as well as safety concerns for children travelling to and from nearby schools.

But others argued the change should be allowed to ensure construction could be completed as soon as possible.

Cllr Richard Dodd said: “Let’s get it done and dusted, let’s get the money that they have promised to put the roads right and get it done.

“The battle for this has been lost, we need to get on and finish the job.”