Still time to have your say on Local Plan

More than 600 people have taken the opportunity to find out more about the Northumberland Local Plan at drop-in consultation events, including Berwick and Belford.

Thursday, 21st February 2019, 8:27 am
Marygate, Berwick Picture by Jane Coltman

Further drop-in events will be held at the Cheviot Centre in Wooler on Monday, March 4, and Seahouses Sports & Community Centre on Tuesday, March 5, both from 2pm to 7pm.

In Berwick, the proposed requirement for additional dwellings between April 2016 and March 2036 is around 800 over the plan period (40 per year).

To achieve this target, sites are proposed for allocation in the Tweedmouth area, amounting to somewhere between 200 and 300 of the required dwellings, (depending on detailed site considerations), with the remainder coming from completions and sites with permission or minded to approve applications.

No additional employment land allocations are proposed over and above existing available land.

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It is acknowledged the town centre has lost a degree of vitality and viability due to a number of out-of-centre retail developments in recent years. The Local Plan seeks to address this through its approach of boosting quality and choice of services.

Unlike previous consultations, at this stage the council has to ask specific questions. These are around whether the plan is sound, whether it is legal, whether it is an appropriate strategy and whether the council has worked with neighbouring authorities and other organisations to address strategic issues.

The local plan must comply with planning law and be in line with national planning policies. It must also have been prepared using robust and credible evidence, have properly assessed the need for homes, jobs and infrastructure, and be able to demonstrate that it can be delivered.

To have your say, visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/localplan before March 13.

BERWICK-UPON-TWEED

About the town:

Berwick-upon-Tweed is the northernmost market town in Northumberland, located within the North Delivery Area. It is one of England’s outstanding historic walled towns and a key hub between the conurbations of Edinburgh and Tyneside. Its history and geography give the town a unique sense of place and it is a popular tourist destination. It is on the East Coast Main Line and the A1 trunk road, approximately midway between Edinburgh and Tyneside and has a hinterland that extends well into the Scottish borders.

Neighbourhood Plans

The Council is supporting the preparation of two neighbourhood plans in the Berwick area; the Berwick Neighbourhood Plan, and the Norham and Islandshire Neighbourhood Plan. Both plans are at relative early stages in preparation.

Role as a main town

It is proposed that Berwick continues to act as a key hub for housing, employment, education, healthcare, retail, transport and tourism, and be the main focus for development to underpin its social, economic, environmental and cultural regeneration.

Housing

The proposed requirement for additional dwellings between April 2016 and March 2036 is: around 800 over the plan period (40 per year). In order to achieve this target, sites are proposed for allocation in the Tweedmouth area, amounting to somewhere between 200 and 300 of the required dwellings, (depending on detailed site considerations), with the remainder coming from completions and sites with permission or minded to approve applications.

Employment

No additional employment land allocations are proposed over and above existing available land. The town has large industrial estates with a relatively large supply of land in relation to indicators of market demand. This includes the Ramparts employment area, (which forms part of an Enterprise Zone that has added incentives for employers to locate there). The town’s port is important to the wider area; it is capable of handling larger freight vessels and is considered to have an important role in increasing exports and catering to the visitor industry.

Town centre

Berwick-upon-Tweed town centre falls into the top level of the hierarchy of town centres, being a ‘main town - larger centre’ with a good level of retail provision along with town centre community facilities. It is reasonably well provided for in terms of accessibility by public transport and has a good level of off-street car parking. It acts as a community hub for a large population covering the town and its wide rural hinterland. This role, along with its vitality and viability as a centre, will be protected and enhanced through policy. The centre has lost a degree of vitality and viability due to a number of out-of-centre retail developments in recent years. The Local Plan seeks to address this through its approach of boosting quality and choice of services in existing market town centres.

Settlement Boundary

A settlement boundary is defined in the Publication Draft Local Plan for Berwick, together with East Ord to protect the countryside from encroachment, and maintain the town as a sustainable settlement.

Some key issues:

While its catchment extends across the border, this border area contains a number of competing market towns of similar size. The town would therefore benefit from significant additional investment in its centre.

While the town has a bypass, there remains an issue of the lack of a dual carriageway on long stretches of the A1 further south which adds to its remoteness from Tyneside. The Local Plan supports such a scheme. Berwick-upon-Tweed is influenced by the Edinburgh City-Region, which is the focus of a strategic growth strategy. Proposals for expansion in the central Scottish Borders and the re-opening of the Waverley line could also have implications for the social and economic well- being of the town.

The town’s coastal location means that it lies close to a number of international nature conservation protections running along the coastal and estuary areas.

The port, the second most important in the County, should be protected in terms of its operational needs, including the Tweed Dock minerals transportation facility.