Garden site homes bid

A derelict garage site on the main entrance to a historic Northumberland town is being lined up for new housing.

A derelict garage site on the main entrance to a historic Northumberland town is being lined up for new housing.

McCarthy and Stone Development, which specialises in retirement homes and flats, wants to put 17 new properties on the former Blackshaws Garage, next to the Alnwick Garden and medieval Bondgate Tower.

The firm has already attempted to build on the land, which is in Alnwick's conservation area, but was refused permission in 2005 for 59 sheltered apartments for the elderly. A further two applications were subsequently withdrawn for revisions.

The latest incarnation would create nine `open market' three, four and five-bedroom town houses, and a further four affordable properties, comprising a pair of two-bedroom apartments and an additional two-bedroom and three-bedroom houses.

Access would be via the existing entrance which served the garage, and 28 parking spaces would be created.

Director of environment and regeneration, Paul Gee, is recommending approval for the scheme when it is considered by the development control committee next Tuesday night.

He said: "The revised proposal helps to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the area, and the setting of the park and garden.

"The redevelopment of this site will bring regeneration benefits to this part of Alnwick, with a scheme which is sympathetic to the surroundings and which preserves and enhances this part of the conservation area."

The first major bid by McCarthy and Stone, back in 2005, met with objections from project leaders at the Alnwick Garden - spearheaded by the Duchess of Northumberland.

They said say the 61-apartment bid was too big and too close to some of their main attractions.

In its original form, it was a three and four-storey mix of sheltered dwellings, along with ground floor shop space and car parking areas.

But garden managers said its sheer height would ruin the views from inside the world-class tourist attraction, and there would be over 30 windows directly overlooking one of its main walks.

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