Controversial plans for a retail park, 200 houses and a school on the County Hall site in Morpeth have been called in by the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid.
Despite huge opposition, Northumberland County Council's planning committee voted to approve the applications earlier this month. The intervention from the Department for Communities and Local Government means that the applications will be determined following a public inquiry.
Opposition groups including the South Morpeth Coalition residents' group and the Morpeth Chamber of Trade welcomed the news. David Holden of the residents' group said:
Jacky Beesley, Chair of Morpeth Chamber of Trade said:
Requests for the plans to be called in were submitted by the South Morpeth Coaltion and the Chamber of Trade.
Morpeth Town Council also wrote to the Secretary of State as did local politicians and two of Northumberland's MPs, Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Guy Opperman.
- The Council's Strategic Planning Committee was 'minded' to approve (by a 9-5 margin in each case) the planning applications for a school, edge of town retail park and 200 homes on the 7th March, once the consultation deadline of 10th March expired and subject to referral to the Secretary of State, which would have involved the normal 21 day period for a 'call in' decision.
- Gavin Barwell MP, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning wrote to the County Council on 7th March and placed an ‘Article 31 Holding Direction’ under Article 31 (c)(i) of the Town and Country (Development Management Procedure)(England) Order 2010. This prevented the County Council determining the applications until such time as the Minister has fully considered the decision and extends the normal 21 day period for a Call In decision.
- The Secretary of State wrote to the County Council on 27th March to communicate his decision to call in the applications. Under section 77 of the 1990 Act, the applications shall be referred to him instead of being dealt with by the Local Planning Authority.
- Final number of objections / letters of support - 1731 / 15 (99.1% / 0.9%)
- Numbers include retail park, housing and school.
- Strategic Planning Committee vote - in favour were 7 Labour, 1 Independent (Chair) and 1 Lib Dem. Against were 4 Conservatives and 1 Lib Dem.