The Duke of Northumberland’s business venture has lodged plans for a massive housing development in his home town.
Northumberland Estates has applied for outline planning permission to develop 271 homes on a site at the south of Alnwick.
The homes - some of which are to be affordable - would sit on the same site as a new high school for Alnwick and a residential care facility, and beside new sports facilities, all on estates’ land.
A group which represents local businesses last night welcomed the prospect of the new homes, but voiced fears the creation of a “small new town” to the south of Alnwick would impact on the struggling centre of the community.
The estates’ bid seeks change of use to put the homes on agricultural land east of Greensfield, with 30% to be affordable.
The scheme includes Isos Housing Group’s plans for a £5m residential extra care facility, for which it recently obtained £2m Government funding subject to planning approval.
That project is designed to provide 58 affordable one and two bedroom apartments for older people.
The scheme is intended to act as a community hub including a range of communal facilities, such as a shop, café, internet connections, hairdressers, multi purpose room for GPs to use, patio and sensory gardens for use by residents and the wider older community.
The estates’ houses are also to sit alongside a replacement for the town’s ageing Duchess’s Community High School, one of two which Northumberland County Council recently agreed to contribute £10m to in addition to previously agreed Government funding.
The estates held a public exhibition of its plans in March, before the Isos scheme had been incorporated and the new school site confirmed.
The county council will now carry out consultation on its outline application, with the estates expecting a decision from the authority early next year.
In a statement, it said: “Initial plans for the development were shared with the local community at a public exhibition earlier in 2013 and the majority of attendees felt that the development would make a positive contribution to the town.”
Of the Isos scheme, the statement adds: “This addition significantly enhances the development and, as Northumberland has an increasingly ageing population, will help meet rising demand for supported accommodation in Alnwick.
“30% of the housing will be affordable housing and this will enable local people to access high quality homes in their community.”
Last night, Carlo Biagioni, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade, voiced concerns that the plans would see more development focused at the southern end of town, pointing to a recent announcement that supermarket company Aldi and Majestic Wine are lining up projects on South Road.
He claimed the town centre would suffer further, with a number of businesses there having closed in recent times.
“Everything seems to be getting built on the south side. We are welcoming the cheaper homes because we need it in this area but the question we put towards the planners is what is going to become of the town? What about the town?
“It is a huge project. It is going to be like a small new town. People in the town, they are already struggling, they have been struggling with this recession.
“It is a concern. It is to do with the number of shops going on the outskirts of the town again. That is our feeling.”
The chamber is to discuss its response to the application at its meeting tonight.