Residents hit out at plans to extend their estate

RESIDENTS of a housing estate in the grounds of Hartford Hall, near Bedlington, are opposing plans to build another 23 homes there.

The planned extension to the estate is being proposed by developer Maymask as a way of funding work left undone after the estate’s original 48 homes were completed five years ago.

The outstanding work includes the creation of a children’s play area, the provision of a new access road and resurfacing of roads.

It also includes restoration of the Victorian iron gates at the entrance to the estate and the terrace to the south of the hall.

Northumberland County Council has been unable to insist that the work be done because the original developer, Hartford Hall Estates, went into administration in 2009.

An application for outline consent to build the new homes is due to be decided on by the council’s south east area planning committee at its meeting in Blyth on Tuesday.

Maymask is also planning to divide the hall up into seven homes and convert its stable block into a further seven homes.

However, its plans look set for rejection as planning officers are recommending that they be turned down, and, like previous applications over recent years, they have sparked widespread opposition.

In a report to next week’s meeting, planning officer Jennie Adamson says: “Over a number of years, officers from this council and also the former Wansbeck District Council have been working to secure the completion of the estate.

“The current application would appear in principle to be another means of securing this aim.

“The restoration of the gates and the improved access to the estate would not only benefit the residents of the estate but give benefit to the local area.

“However, officers have strong reservations about whether the proposed scheme could deliver all of the proposed works, given the uncertainty surrounding the extent of the costs involved in the proposed development.

“There would potentially be a significant risk in granting permission for the proposed scheme.

“There is insufficient justification for approving a development that is contrary to policies regarding the location of development outwith the settlement limits and within the green belt and that could have a detrimental impact on the setting of a listed building.”

Almost 40 objections have been submitted to the council.

West Bedlington Town Council, Hartford Bridge Residents’ Association and Hartford Hall Residents’ Association are all opposed to the plans, fearing that they are not viable and could lead to the homes being built at Low Meadow but the improvements their sale is supposed to fund remaining undone.

Hartford Bridge Residents’ Association chairman Irving Cobden said: “It is unnecessary as there are more than enough houses for sale in the area and there is no demand.

“This area is of great environmental importance, with a number of rare animal and plant species threatened by this.”

Hartford Hall Residents’ Association chairman Nick Dyson added that he felt the special circumstances cited by Maymask for building on green-belt land do not stack up.