Lesbury post office not part of village redevelopment

A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to redevelop a picturesque Northumberland village has been resurrected – but its post office will not be included.

Artist's impression of how the new homes will look in Lesbury

A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to redevelop a picturesque Northumberland village has been resurrected – but its post office will not be included.

Northumberland Estates, the Duke of Northumberland’s business venture, last year applied to demolish and replace the post office and homes at Lesbury, near Alnwick.

However, as reported in The Journal in December, the scheme was withdrawn amid a groundswell of opposition from villagers, 400 of whom signed a petition.

Now, the estates has lodged a new scheme which includes less than half the original number of homes – but not the post office.

That was last night welcomed by its sub-postmistress who had set up the petition.

The estates had lodged a full planning application and a bid for listed building consent with Northumberland County Council.

Its scheme would have seen a number of homes and the post office – all occupied by tenants – demolished.

The post office in Lesbury, Northumberland

A total of 20 new homes were to be built in their place, six or seven of them affordable, alongside a new post office and convenience store.

The estates said it was looking to provide “some smaller bungalows of the type which would be suitable for older residents in the village”.

It said written comments had been “very positive, with two thirds of respondents being supportive of the scheme, and of the design.”

But the proposals sparked massive opposition.

As well as the petition, 34 letters of objection were penned while Lesbury Parish Council came out unanimously against the scheme.

Objectors claimed the development would be “totally out of keeping” with Lesbury and include too many new homes.

They argued it would be better for the properties, some of which are 250 years old and one of which is a listed building, to be renovated rather than replaced.

The estates withdrew the scheme, to the delight of objectors, but said it would return with amended plans. It has now come back with a project for planning and listed building consent which would see one outbuilding demolished and eight single-storey homes – some affordable – built as well as a new access road.

The scheme excludes the post office and the homes which were to be demolished.

Letters detailing the project have been sent to those who objected to the initial plans, by the county council, with comments to be submitted by March 21.

Sub-postmistress Carol Southam, said: “I think it is good news for the village that the post office is not going to be affected therefore there will not be that threat to continuity of service.”

Parish council chairman Tom Wilson said members were currently studying the plans and would be meeting in due course to decide their position.

No one was available at the estates for comment yesterday.

In a report to the council, the venture states: “It has been clearly evidenced that the proposals provide a sustainable form of development that would not result in demonstrable harm to the environs in which it is located.

“The proposals provide positive benefits with a traditional design that does not detract away from the area or open countryside.

“The local planning authority is therefore invited to grant detailed planning permission for the development sought.”

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