Northumberland planners are keen for developers to submit detailed plans and not outline applications in certain sensitive areas.

However, the planning inspector carrying out the examination of the county’s Local Plan has questioned whether this requirement should be included as part of the document’s policies.

The second day of the second phase of hearings focused on the environment section of the plan, which aims to ‘conserve, protect and enhance character and significance of Northumberland’s distinctive and valued natural, historic and built environments’.

The inspector, Susan Heywood, asked why the policy on the Northumberland Coast AONB contained a requirement for a full planning application ‘where the nature or location of a development proposal necessitates detailed consideration of its impact on the special qualities of the AONB’.

Northumberland County Council’s AONB officer, David Feige, said: “We have struggled as an AONB team to provide advice to our development management colleagues with outline applications.”

But Ms Heywood pointed out that the authority already has powers to request additional information from applicants – which could be highlighted within the plan’s supporting information.

Sara Rushton, from the council, said: “In a number of cases, we find it extremely difficult to make the impact assessments in relation to outline applications in conservation areas.

The local plan provides a blueprint for the county up to 2036, and aims to support 15,000 jobs.