A LONG-RUNNING dispute over a prominent site in Prudhoe shows no sign of coming to an end more than 18 months after it began.

Concerns were raised in March last year over the safety of the Prudhoe Drill Hall site on Swalwell Close.

Work to knock down the site and replace it with six four-bedroom, three-storey houses stopped unexpectedly, leaving the site unsecure with debris blowing around.

At a meeting of Tynedale Local Area Council in January, county council planning officers explained that the reason demolition had stopped was because the site’s owner had been “indefinitely detained and could not continue to work."

Last July, Coun. Ken Stow, who represents Prudhoe North, revealed to Prudhoe Town Council that the owner had been sent to prison for eight years.

However, a possible solution has come forward in the form of a court hearing in December.

Coun. Stow expressed sympathy with residents living nearby.

Speaking this week, Coun. Stow said: "This is an extremely frustrating matter and we have huge sympathy with the residents living close by'

"The landowner has refused to allow Northumberland County Council to carry out any work on the site.

"The Confiscation Proceedings against the land owner are continuing.

"The matter is currently listed before the Court on the December 21 2020 for a final determination with a time estimate of 2 days.

"As things stand there is little more we can do other than "manage" the site in its current state, and keep in regular contact with the NCC legal department pushing for urgent action."

Demolition work on the former territorial army drill hall began in December 2018.

The historic hall dates back to 1914, but was most recently used as a gym and has now stood empty for several years.

An application to build six homes was approved by Northumberland County Council officers despite concerns lodged by Prudhoe Town Council over parking.

In January, councillors agreed to build a wooden fence around the site due to health and safety concerns following a visit from Northumberland County Council’s building control and environmental health team.

Councillors agreed that the fence, which replaced an existing metal fence for additional security, could be in place for up to two years, fearing the issue could take a long time to solve.