THE FINAL decision on a controversial planning application has been taken away from councillors.

At last week’s meeting of the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council, members rejected plans for a chalet on land north of Heugh Mill Farm, near Stamfordham, by seven votes to zero, with one abstention.

However, the applicant has already lodged an appeal for non-determination, as the latest decision was not made in time.

As a result, the decision will now be made by the planning inspector.

The applicant has stated that the three-bedroom chalet was required in order for the applicant to establish her horse-breeding business.

The planning officer reported that the building was unsuitable in the green belt and open countryside.

The officer concluded: “The submitted information does not show the proposed business to be viable by the end of the three-year period for which the temporary permission is sought.

“No evidence has been submitted which clearly shows the dwelling would be occupied by a full-time rural business worker.”

The scheme had attracted 20 objections from residents.

Craig Ross, of chartered surveyors George F White, stated that his client wanted three years to see if the business worked, at no risk to the council, given the temporary permission being sought.

Moving refusal though, Coun. David Bawn said: “We didn’t come down in the last shower, I think we all know what’s happening here.

“The agent made a good fist of it, but we have a proposal for a three-bedroom chalet in the countryside. This is deliberately the cart before the horses.”

Coun Scott Dickinson added: “I’m really uncomfortable about the piecemeal approach. It also annoys me when people try to go round the system rather than through it.”