Waterworks scheme deferred for site visit

A decision on amended plans for new homes on a prime site overlooking the River Tweed has been delayed to allow councillors to take a closer look.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 8:56 am
The water works site on Dock Road, Tweedmouth.

Northumbrian Water’s outline bid for 10 homes at its former waterworks 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, but the scheme was given the nod by five votes to zero with four abstentions.

An updated application was then lodged towards the end of last year, which was again recommended for approval when the committee met last Thursday.

The redevelopment would still see the existing depot building converted into six apartments across two floors, involving an extension to the rear of the building, while four two storey, semi-detached properties would be built to the south-east of the depot and the disused reservoir would be removed.

However, the new application is a hybrid one, seeking full planning permission for the depot element and outline permission for the four new-build houses.

Notwithstanding this change, the outline element still ‘rang alarm bells’ for the area’s ward councillor Georgina Hill, one of those who had been dissatisfied last time.

She said that while she appreciated the purpose of outline applications in certain cases, she didn’t believe it was appropriate here given that without the details of the proposed new-build homes, it was impossible to judge the impact on the conservation area.

Planning officer Tony Lowe said: “While building conservation (the council team) would prefer more detail, they have not identified any harm and they certainly haven’t objected.

“We have much more detail than we had last summer.”

“My understanding is the applicant would like to keep the new-build elements in outline simply to make it more saleable.”

The meeting heard that it was common for landowners to do this in cases where the site will be developed by someone else, to avoid tying the developer down to an already-agreed detailed scheme.

Nonetheless, Coun Hill moved deferring the decision for a site visit, which was unanimously supported by the committee.

Earlier in the meeting, objector Ross Weddle had spoken about the impact on these properties by rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

“The homes you are here to consider today are likely to be worthless in 20 years,” he said.

Meanwhile, Katherine Simpson, the applicant’s agent, highlighted that this proposal would enable the reuse of a derelict site and the sensitive conversion of an empty building.

Assurances were previously given that the development, if approved, would have no impact on the neighbouring Goodie Patchy woodland, which is subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

Berwick Town Council, St Boisil’s Residents’ Association and charity Woodland Education and Training (WET), have all expressed concerns over whether housing is the most appropriate use for the site.