Strongly-opposed housing scheme set for go-ahead

The fields in New Hartley currently used to graze horses but are earmarked for housing.
The fields in New Hartley currently used to graze horses but are earmarked for housing.

A controversial bid for almost 300 new homes, which would represent a major increase in the size of a Northumberland village, looks set to go ahead.

A resubmitted application by Barratt Homes North East, for 285 houses on land north-east of St Michael’s Avenue in New Hartley, will be decided at Tuesday’s meeting of the county council’s strategic planning committee.

But despite 805 objections from 424 residents, as well as from Seaton Valley Parish Council, the scheme is recommended for approval by planning officers as ‘it is not considered that there are any adverse impacts that would so significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits’.

This is subject to a section 106 legal agreement relating to affordable housing and off-site highway works, as well as other conditions.

However, residents who have been fighting the plans have said that this recommendation has left them with no option but to ask the Secretary of State to call in the application.

The scheme, which would include 14 bungalows, would provide 69 two-bedroom homes, 153 three-bedroom properties and 63 four-bedroom houses; 43 of them (representing 15 per cent of the total) would be affordable.

An application for the development was first submitted to the county council in June 2014.

At a public meeting that September, around 300 people crammed into New Hartley Memorial Hall to give a thumbs-down to the plans.

In December 2014, Barratt withdrew the proposals in the face of a recommendation for refusal. But an updated version was submitted last May.

At that time, Neil Milburn, the company’s land director, said: “There is no dispute between ourselves and the council that the site at New Hartley is a sustainable and suitable site that is appropriate for much-needed new housing.

“There is similarly no dispute between us that the development will bring with it 414 jobs and real economic benefits.

“We have in conjunction with the council revisited the access arrangement and agreed to provide a roundabout and now hope that the amended submission will now be accepted so that we can progress with this much-needed scheme.”