Green light for conversion of former waterworks into housing

The redevelopment of a former waterworks overlooking the River Tweed into flats and new houses has been given the green light – for the second time.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 3:31 pm
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 3:38 pm
The former waterworks in Tweedmouth.

Northumbrian Water’s outline bid for 10 homes at its site on Dock Road in Tweedmouth was initially approved at last July’s meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.

A number of councillors were unhappy about the lack of detail with it being an outline application – particularly in relation to its impact on the conservation area – but the scheme was given the nod by five votes to zero with four abstentions.

However, updated plans were then lodged towards the end of last year, when issues relating to the use of an outline application to change the use of buildings were identified.

Therefore, the new scheme, which was given the nod by eight votes to two, was a hybrid one, including seeking full planning permission for the conversion of the existing depot building into six apartments across two floors, which involves an extension to the rear of the building.

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But the new-build elements – four two storey, semi-detached properties, to be built to the south-east of the depot – were still in outline.

And it was these houses which had sparked the issues, including at last Thursday’s (March 21) meeting of the local area council, where Margaret Thomas, of St Boisil’s Residents’ Association raised a number of concerns.

But the applicant’s agent, Katherine Simpson, explained that following a meeting with local councillors and groups, they had agreed to an additional condition to set the design parameters for the new houses.

Coun Georgina Hill, the ward member for Berwick East, said: “The meeting was helpful, but we did hit a brick wall. The new condition is a step forward, but there still aren’t enough details.”

However, she was in a minority as the application was approved by eight votes to two.

Coun Jeff Watson said: “There’s not much controversy about the conversion, it’s more about the new builds and that will come back to agree the detail.”

After the meeting, Coun Hill said: “Although not expressly prohibited, best-practice guidelines advise against considering outline or partly outline (hybrid) planning applications in conservation areas.

“Without this detail, it is impossible to properly assess the impact on the conservation area and, therefore, we could not consider this application properly. The committee should have insisted on this detail rather then just nodding it through.

“I hope that the Northumberland County Council planning department will now take my concerns on board and review their policy on accepting outline applications in conservation areas.”

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service