Residents in a Northumberland town who have fought a long running battle with a housing developer have tasted victory in their latest clash.
People living at Loansdean, on the southern edge of Morpeth, have succeeded in fighting off a planning application from Bellway Homes to build houses on land there.
However last night they said they feared an appeal from the company, with a challenge to an earlier application which was refused, still to be thrashed out.
The company’s original application – for 200 houses and bungalows together with commercial and retail units at the green field site – was rejected by Northumberland County Councillors in February last year after it sparked more than 200 objections and a 468-name petition.
An appeal to the Planning Inspectorate was rejected six months later following a public inquiry, but Bellway then launched a High Court challenge, which led to the decision being quashed in May.
That meant a new inquiry would have to be held, conducted by a different inspector although this time through written representations, but at the same time Bellway submitted a revised application for planning permission. The second bid proposed 186 houses, increased the number of properties which would be available at “affordable” rent levels and revised access proposals to minimise the loss of trees.
There were more than 220 letters of objection to the scheme, including Morpeth Civic Society, Ponteland Civic Society and the local member, alongside others from Morpeth Town Council and Hepscott Flood Action Group.
Following a site visit, council officers recommended the application be given conditional approval. However, at a meeting of the authority’s North area planning committee, members voted four to one to refuse.
Speaking after the decision, David Holden, of Southgate Wood, a leading member of the South Morpeth Residents’ Coalition, said: “We are delighted that the planning committee and councillors on it have seen the flaws in the recommendation from officers and voted to refuse the application.”
He however said the “war” is ongoing, given the existing appeal and the chance of a second.
The Journal contacted Bellway but it failed to provide a comment.