Please Don't Allow Our Town to Sprawl; Town Hall Is Jam-Packed as Inquiry Starts
Byline: Dave Black
AMARKET town will be allowed to "sprawl" out in two directions if controversial plans to build 200 new homes on its outskirts are given the green light, it was claimed yesterday.
Campaigners in Morpeth say approval for the Bellway Homes scheme will make it impossible for Northumberland County Council to effectively manage the town's future growth, and result in "unsustainable pressure" on funding for infrastructure work.
Local people and community representatives say future development should be concentrated to the north of the town, where there are plans for a pounds 30m bypass and proposals to build hundreds of new homes on former hospital land.
But Bellway wants to build 200 houses and bungalows - with an associated shopping and commercial development - on green belt land at Loansdean, on the southern edge of the town.
Planning permission was refused by the county council five months ago, after the application sparked more than 200 letters of objection and a 468-name protest petition from residents. Bellway lodged an appeal against the decision and yesterday a public inquiry got under way, conducted by Government-appointed planning inspector Malcolm Rivett.
The start of the hearing was delayed for 30 minutes after queues formed outside and more than 200 people crammed into Morpeth Town Hall for the scheduled 10am opening. At one point postponing the inquiry and moving it to a larger venue was considered.
The Bellway scheme is being opposed by local residents' group the South Morpeth Coalition, after the county council decided not to defend its decision to refuse permission.
Yesterday former social worker Joan Tebbutt, who lives in The Kylins, Morpeth and is a leading member of the coalition, outlined the opposition case. …