Residents of a picturesque Northumberland village are banding together amid fears that the level of housing being proposed there will destroy its character.
People at Warkworth have formed an action group, due to concerns over a number of housing proposals which could take place there and fears at the impact they would have on village life.
One of the developers behind some of the schemes has however said they are being pursued to meet the requirement to build both affordable and private housing in the area, and pointed out the village’s identification as a suitable site for new homes.
In recent times, government planning inspectors have allowed appeals for 37 homes and 27 affordable properties in Warkworth.
The Duke of Northumberland’s business venture Northumberland Estates now has three planning applications in for the village, 50 at Guildens Road, approximately 11 homes at Watershaugh Road and around six at Station Road.
Residents fear the prospect of 67 new homes on top of the 64 already approved.
As a result, they have formed the action group.
A spokesperson explained: “We call the group ‘One Voice for Warkworth’ and it aims to stand up for our award winning historic village and protect it from such sudden over development.
“We are saying no to such excessive housing as there is no need for it.
“We had a public meeting with over 90 residents coming along. Everyone has been really supportive and the strength of feeling in the village is very evident.”
She told how residents fear the cumulative impact of the various schemes “will affect our village way of life and have a detrimental impact on the character of our award winning historic village.”
The spokesperson said the development put local wildlife, ecology and green space “seriously at risk.”
She claimed ecology surveys submitted on behalf of the estates “do not show the true richness of wildlife we have in our green spaces.”
Members are also concerned over traffic and road congestion.
They also believe there is no strategy in place to stop overdevelopment with the emerging Northumberland Core Strategy not yet adopted.
The spokeswoman added: “That strategy demonstrates a requirement of 187 houses per year across the whole of North Northumberland yet Warkworth is expected to have 131 of those.
“This amount of development is clearly unsustainable and could mean a population increase of up to 25% with no extra facilities to cope.
“The public are not being listened to. Warkworth does not need any more housing.”
Yet Colin Barnes, head of planning and development at the estates, said: “These planning applications in Warkworth have been submitted to meet the requirement to build both affordable and private housing in North Northumberland over the duration of the next development plan.
“Each of the sites has been carefully selected so as not to impact upon the important heritage areas around this historic village, and have been previously assessed by the council as being suitable for development under the strategic housing land availability process.
“Warkworth has also already been identified as a sustainable location for new housing having a range of services and being only a short distance from more major centres at Amble and Alnwick.
“The need to provide new housing in this country is reported almost daily on the news.
“These sites have been specifically chosen because they are relatively small in scale and will have little visual impact – people passing through Warkworth will generally be unaware that they even exist.
“They will support local services including shops, pubs and the school and we have no reservations in bringing them forward. “Obviously it is a matter for the council to decide upon their acceptability but a great deal of thought and planning has gone into their selection and we see them as beneficial to the community as a whole.”