Future of derelict sites discussed

St Aidan's House on Palace Green

St Aidan's House on Palace Green

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Concerns have been raised that new planning proposals could result in the further delay of long-awaited redevelopment schemes in Berwick.

Berwick Town Council has indicated that it is keen to look at formulating a neighbourhood plan to guide planning and land use policies over the next 15 years or so.

Towns and parishes with a neighbourhood plan will receive 25% of any Community Infrastructure Levy arising from developments in their area compared to parishes without a neighbourhood plan which will receive 15%.

However, Councillor John Robertson has expressed fears that more stringent rules will be a hindrance to developers.

“We have so many derelict sites at the bottom end of town that the last thing we want to do is put the developer off by asking for more financial requirements,” he said.

“We need to get the message across that we are not opposed to development but it has to be done sensitively.”

He felt that brownfield sites such as Governors Garden and St Aidan’s Hostel in Palace Green were of prime concern, along with the likes of the former playhouse on Sandgate, Youngman’s hardware store on Hide Hill and Spittal Point.

“We already have a developer on Palace Green saying they can’t afford do develop the scheme with any affordable housing at the moment,” he said. “And when is Spittal Point going to happen?

“My point is that we don’t want developers turning around and saying it’s too costly to develop in Berwick. We don’t want to price the developer out of town.”

But Councillor Hazel Bettison felt the neighbourhood plan offered the chance to put more pressure on developers who have failed to implement long-standing planning permissions.

The plan could be used to ask developers to prove that a scheme is financially viable before further approvals are given.

In other parts of the country, neighbourhood plans have been used to ban the development of holiday homes.

David English, principle planner at Northumberland County Council, said the plan would tie in with the core strategy currently being prepared by the unitary authority which covers the period up to 2031.

The county council has made a commitment to supporting all communities with their neighbourhood plan.

Bamburgh, Seahouses and Beadnell have made a start on their plan.

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