Controversial housing development at Acomb gets go-ahead

Barry Knott and Helen Hayes-Wynne in their garden in Acomb, overlooked by the new development.
Barry Knott and Helen Hayes-Wynne in their garden in Acomb, overlooked by the new development.

REVISED plans for a controversial housing development in Acomb, which has seen ground levels raised by up to three metres, have been given the go ahead despite fierce objections.

Avant Homes secured planning permission to build up to 40 new properties on land behind homes at Garden House Drive, but work ground to a halt in August after Northumberland County Council issued an enforcement notice.

The installation of steel pilings and major earthworks, which would leave homes at the Birkey Heights development towering over existing properties, gave planning officers grounds to serve the notice over a breach in planning conditions.

Amended plans for 39 new homes were put before members of the Tynedale Local Area Council on Tuesday.

Garden House Drive resident, Barry Knott, spoke against the application.

“The reality is that the applicant has steadily increased ground levels to three metres above our gardens, while claiming approval to build.”

He said residents had always known the site was earmarked for development alongside them, but added: “It’s the building on top of us we have an issue with.

“The new plans show the level of the road will be reduced by half a metre which still means traffic will be parked and driven above head height in our gardens, and the gable ends of theses houses will tower above our homes.”

Mr Knott said the new plans would leave retaining walls on the site at their existing height and only trees and fences were offered as screening.

“It flies in the face of the stated objective that the privacy enjoyed by the existing properties at Garden House Drive would not be adversely affected,” he added.

Acomb parish councillor Michael McElroy described the new plans as “confusing and contradictory”, while local county councillor Trevor Cessford said he objected to the designs in the “strongest possible terms”.

Assistant development manager at Avant, Tom Baker, spoke alongside the company’s technical director, Tim Ellis.

“Significant changes have been made to the scheme over the last eight months to address residents’ concerns,” said Mr Baker.

“It has been concluded that it would not be overbearing and that the development is consistent with the Tynedale Local Plan.”

He pointed out that their would be “significant benefits” to the community including six new affordable homes, £15,000 towards village recreation and up to 160 new residents supporting services such as the school, post office and local pubs.

The application was approved, in accordance with the recommendations of planning officers, following a 7-1 vote.

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