Anger after Hexham green belt housing is approved

Plans to put affordable housing on green belt at Hexham have been approved, much to the anger of residents

Chair of Hexham Civic Society, Roger Higgins
Chair of Hexham Civic Society, Roger Higgins

A fiercely opposed bid to build homes on green belt land in a Northumberland town have been given the green light.

Efforts to build 26 low cost homes on designated green space in Hexham drew objections from a council, civic society and 14 residents.

They claimed the homes would be an “intrusion” into the green belt and that there are better sites available for the affordable homes.

But county councillors have voted unanimously to approve the application from Newcastle-based social landlord Two Castles and Durham builders Esh Group.

The companies have been told they can construct homes on land opposite the Arnold Clark car dealership on Corbridge Road.

Nearby residents are fighting county council proposals to delete green belt west of the town, between the B6531 and the B6305, to allow the building of 600 homes and employment development.

And the latest decision also follows a council ruling that gave Hexham Auction Mart permission for 122 houses to be built on a greenfield site beside Craneshaugh, also on Corbridge Road.

The latest proposal application also faced opposition from Network Rail, which said insufficient information had been provided to give assurance that there will be no detrimental impact or increase of risk of landslides to the Newcastle to Carlisle railway line beside the site.

The county council’s housing department nevertheless supported the application, claiming the land is a “desirable and sustainable” location for affordable homes.

The authority’s west area planning committee was recommended to approve the application, with planning officers saying “there are no other suitable locations within Hexham outside the green belt which would be available and viable”.

They added: “The character and openness of the green belt would not be significantly eroded due to its location to the north of the busy Corbridge Road (A695) and directly opposite a commercial unit and residential dwellings to the south.” However Hexham Civic Society chairman Roger Higgins last night said: “In approving the previous greenfield applications last year they had essentially shot the fox in being able to resist the green belt one.

“It is a bit of a disappointment but it moves on to the west end now. Hexham is undefended because we have got no representation at the planning committee.

“The county councillors on that planning committee failed to protect the green belt.”

Two Castles could not be contacted for comment. Documents submitted with its application say: “Esh Property Services, in partnership with Two Castles Housing Association, wish to provide much needed affordable housing to assist with the recognised shortfall within Northumberland and within Tynedale in particular.

“The design should demonstrate best practice for the provision of affordable housing to meet current national, regional and local policies in accordance with Homes and Communities Agency and local planning authority requirements.”

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