THE Duke of Northumberland has been accused of trying to mislead the public in order to build houses on green belt land.

At the latest Corbridge Parish Council meeting, councillors and Northumberland County Councillor Nick Oliver said they were concerned that residents desperate for social housing in the village could be duped into supporting any plans for ‘affordable housing’ as set out by a recent housing survey circulated around the village by consultants Arc4, on behalf of Northumberland Estates.

Coun. Oliver said the Duke had already submitted a pre-application for an affordable housing scheme on green belt land off Aydon Road, and he believed the intention of the survey would be to gather evidence to show a need for such a scheme – a requirement to qualify for exceptional circumstances to build on green belt land.

In housing terms, affordable means 80 per cent of the market value. But Coun. Oliver said: “We want to warn local people that, with the average house price in Corbridge being more than £300,000, 80 per cent of the market value could be around £280,000 and you would struggle to define that as affordable housing.”

“We believe this housing survey will be used as evidence to support a housing application. There was a pre-application from the Duke just off Aydon Road and I am guessing the two will be linked.

“The survey seems to be designed as establishing a need for affordable housing.”

Parish council chairman Marc Horn said he believed an application for three to five bedroomed houses would be forthcoming, and some of those properties would attract a price tag of more than £400,000.

He said: “If people genuinely think the village needs affordable housing on this scale, and we are in our little bubble, then they should respond that.”

Arc4 and Northumberland Estates were contacted for comment.