Plans refused for 167-home scheme in Northumberland countryside

Plans have been refused for a 167-home development in open countryside in Northumberland after officers raised concerns about the scheme's impact on the landscape's character and said it woud be "unacceptable on archaeological grounds".

Widdrington Station (pic: Richard Webb via Geograph)
Widdrington Station (pic: Richard Webb via Geograph)

On Tuesday, Northumberland County Council refused consent for the scheme at Widdrington Station on advice from planners that the development "would give rise to the encroachment of built development into the open countryside".

Planners also advised that the scheme would conflict with elements of the local plan seeking to "safeguard the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside".

The officer’s report stated that the plans posed the risk of a "fundamental change to the landscape character of the site area and immediate surroundings in this settlement edge location as a result of the introduction of built development into an agricultural landscape".

The report also advised that a section 106 agreement "to secure affordable housing, primary healthcare, ecology coastal mitigation and off site community facilities/play contributions which are considered necessary to mitigate the impacts of the proposed development" had not been agreed.

It also said that "comprehensive archaeological trial trenching" had not having been undertaken across the application site prior to determination of the application.

The proposals "are considered unacceptable on archaeological grounds because insufficient evaluation has been undertaken to determine the significance of any archaeological heritage assets on site and the details of any necessary mitigation, " the report said.

Planners noted economic and social benefits from the scheme including "boosting significantly the supply of housing and the economic benefits that arise as a consequence".

Overall, however, the report said, "the proposals do not amount to sustainable development as it is considered that the significance of the harm to the environmental objective of sustainable development outweighs the economic and social benefits of the proposal."

In June, Northumberland County Council submitted a draft local plan for examination which proposed fewer homes than a previous version of the plan, but still more than the local housing need figure produced.

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