Northumberland water company facing opposition to development plans

A Northumberland drinking water company's plans for a new bottling plant are facing opposition from neighbours

Joe Evans and Elizabeth Walton of Marlish Water
Lib - Joe Evans and Elizabeth Walton of Marlish Water

A family business which sells drinking water from a spring on a Northumberland farm is facing opposition to its development plans.

Marlish Water, run by Elizabeth Walton and her nephew Joe Evans on her West Marlish Farm at Hartburn near Morpeth, is seeking planning permission for a new bottling facility on the site.

However, the firm’s proposal is facing seven letters of objection from neighbours amid fears over the impacts of the operation.

Yet Northumberland County Council planners are tomorrow night being recommended to approve the scheme.

Mr Evans approached his semi-retired aunt two years ago with the idea of selling the water from the spring on her farm, which once housed a visitor centre for schools.

The duo currently send water from the farm to be bottled at Sunderland with the finished product sent back.

Their application would see change of use of a building used for secure storage and machinery to a spring water bottling plant.

This would reduce the business’s cost by 50%, ending the need to transport water off site. It would also aid the company’s bid for “spring water status”, with firms applying for that classification having to bottle at source.

County councillor for Longhorsley, Glenn Sanderson, has written a letter of support and last night told The Journal the company could be “another Abbey Well”, the Morpeth-based natural mineral water company having been snapped up by Coca Cola.

However, seven letters of objection have been sent to the county council, one of which is from a planning agent representing a number of residents of West Marlish.

Objectors have raised concerns over the level of information supplied, the scale of the development and operation, vehicle movements, noise generation, disposal of sewage and the use and creation of a bore hole.

Council officers, though, are recommending the North area planning committee approve the scheme at a meeting tomorrow night.

Mr Evans last night voiced his hope that councillors would follow that advice and said he hoped the company could provide jobs in the area.

He said: “We are trying to create a local brand. There seems to be a gap in the market and that is what we are trying to fill.”

Mr Martin also sought to allay objectors’ fears.

He said: “We are doing as much as we can to minimise the impact for any people in the surrounding area and it is really not going to have any effect.

“It is a very small operation.”

Meanwhile, two development proposals for Alnwick are also being recommended for approval tomorrow night.

They are pub chain Wetherspoon’s bid to convert the former cinema at Corn Exchange, and proposals to open an Aldi and a Majestic Wine store on the former Willis garage site.

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