New twist in 20-year Seahouses play park row

An ‘IT error’ meant planning chiefs were forced to vote for a second time to settle a long-running battle over a play park.

Monday, 30th August 2021, 5:04 pm
Kings Field in Seahouses where residents have lost a battle with developers to re-align a public space 20 years after it was first agreed.

Proposals for the Kings Field estate, in Seahouses, were given the green light almost two decades ago, with house-builders agreeing to include a children’s area and field.

In June this year however, 19 years after the application was given the go-ahead and 77 homes built, developers requested to move the public open space.

Permission for the change was granted by Northumberland County Council’s North Northumberland Local Area Council.

But in a further twist, the panel was called on to reconsider the proposal after it was revealed consultation with families living nearby had not been carried out.

According to a report for councillors: “During the [June] meeting, the Ward Member raised a concern regarding notification letters to members of the public.

“On investigation, following the meeting, it was discovered that, due to an IT error, notification letters were not posted to all contributors. To address this error, the application is again presented to committee for consideration.”

The site was provided for public use through an S106 agreement, under which developers provide public facilities alongside commercial projects, and runs roughly east to west, parallel with Mitchell Avenue.

However, the latest application requested it be ‘re-orientated’ to run north to south along the edge of the housing estate.

More than 20 objections were submitted, questioning why the change was needed so long after the original application had been approved and complaining about maintenance of the existing open space.

Guy Renner Thompson, county councillor for Bamburgh, as well as cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: “I can’t support the recommendation on the material planning consideration that it does affect more residents, so it will become more of a nuisance.

“There’s also the moral reason, that the people who bought these houses thought the S106 [open space] was going to be somewhere else. I think this should be settled in court – we should refuse it and a judge can decide.”

Despite Coun Renner-Thompson’s objections, however, a majority of the committee agreed with Berwick councillor Isabel Hunter’s assessment that there were “no planning grounds to refuse” and voted to approve the scheme for a second time.

James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporting Service