A controversial scheme for up to 180 homes on the western edge of Bedlington has been given the green light.
But the application, for land off Netherton Lane to the west of the Hazelmere housing estate, is an outline one and a detailed application will need to be submitted in the future.
What’s more, some work needs to be carried out by the applicant, Miller Homes, on ground contamination, before the approval is signed off.
Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee gave the nod to the bid at its meeting on Tuesday, but not all members were happy with all aspects of the application.
The site is on greenfield, although previously developed, land, but the planning officer warned that weight must be given to the fact that the county council cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of housing in the area, a key requirement in the recent National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
She explained that two applications which were refused by council committees, across the road from this site at North Ridge and in East Sleekburn, were overturned on appeal by inspectors based on this lack of supply.
Coun Bernard Pidcock was frustrated that issues relating to greenfield land, affordable housing (only 10 per cent is so far being suggested) and local views didn’t seem to make much difference due to the NPPF. “It’s all down to sustainability and building more homes,” he said.
West Bedlington Town Council and 120 residents had objected to the scheme, raising concerns on a range of issues from road safety to the lack of facilities.
Christine Taylor, from the town council, said: “We have to look at what facilities we have got and what infrastructure we have currently got in the town.
“We don’t want Bedlington to become a commuter town that’s just housing and everyone has to leave to access facilities.”
Moving approval, Coun Trevor Thorne said: “The town council is concerned about the economic sustainability of the town and this will go a long way to addressing that.”
Coun Colin Hardcastle seconded the proposal, but said he had concerns about the level of affordable housing, although the planning officer explained that this may increase as the scheme progresses.
Coun Alyson Wallace, who represents Bedlington Central, voted against the plans.