A scheme for hundreds of new homes in Bedlington has been given the nod once again, despite concerns about the linked package of infrastructure improvements.
The outline application, for up to 500 homes on land south-west of Glebe Farm, off Choppington Road, was first approved last year, but there were several outstanding issues to iron out.
These have now been dealt with, but given that the Government issued a new version of its planning rules – the NPPF – in the summer, the bid was brought back to this month’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.
The planning officers’ advice hadn’t changed and the scheme was still recommended for approval, with members voting to grant permission by 10 votes to two, with one abstention.
Earlier in the meeting, Coun Christine Taylor, of West Bedlington Town Council, had raised fears about the site access from Choppington Road, where ‘traffic numbers are increasing regularly’ and another new development is planned a mile up the road.
One of the issues dealt with since the previous approvals was the section 106 legal agreement, which will secure 15 per cent affordable housing, a £1.33million education contribution, £346,500 for healthcare and £229,000 for sports and leisure.
Coun Taylor was concerned about where these contributions would be spent, saying: “The money should really be staying in Bedlington.”
Planning officer Geoff Horsman explained that the contributions were based on what was required to mitigate the impact of the development, for example, some of the education money is for special needs and the nearest special school is Cleaswell Hill in Choppington.
Likewise, some of the health money may support the GP surgery in Guidepost as some of the residents of the new estate, to the north of Bedlington, may choose to register there.
But committee member Coun Malcolm Robinson, who represents Bedlington West, remained dissatisfied with the package in comparison to others elsewhere in the county recently, saying: “I wouldn’t support anything that undervalued my residents.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service