Plans to build homes on a former farm in the county have been turned down over fears it could prompt “nearly every farm” in Northumberland to do the same.

The proposals had sought to create seven properties at the Katerdene site, off Fulbeck Lane, north of the Morpeth Bypass and just beyond the town’s ‘settlement boundary’.

But bosses at Northumberland County Council concluded instead the scheme could not justify the impact it would have on the area.

County councillor for Ponteland North, Richard Dodd, said: “If this application was in front of us a while ago, 10 years ago, there would be a striking difference.

“Planning rules on agricultural buildings have changed [and] where do you go with the last straw on the camel’s back, saying it’s just a little bit on the Green Belt?

“If we pass this, to build on agricultural land, in the greenbelt, then nearly every farm in the county would be looking to knock down their barns.

“Sometimes we have to refuse for a reason which is further down the railway line.”

According to a report for the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council, while concerns about the application were raised by county council officials and Morpeth Town Council, at least 48 letters of support were submitted by members of the public, praising the “high quality” of the plans and the prospect of jobs being created during construction.

According to the local authority’s planning department, however, the scheme did not meet the threshold of “very special circumstances” needed to allow development on Green Belt land.

The location was also criticised as “unsustainable” due to the likelihood any future homeowners would be unable to access public transport and be reliant on cars.

This was disputed by applicant Tim Michie, who told the panel the farm, which was bought by his grandfather in the 1950s, “no longer operates as a commercial unit”.

He said: “For those that know Fulbeck Lane and the site, we can link directly on to the path along the new bypass or, alternatively, simply walk down Fulbeck Lane, like all the current residents do.

“We don’t understand why there’s been a change from [previous advice] and why suddenly walking down the lane or linking to the bypass route is unacceptable and unsustainable.

“It’s hoped that [councillors] who know the site and its location will accept, as all users do, that walking down [Fulbeck Lane] or using the footpath on the bypass is acceptable and provides an easy connection to Morpeth.”

Despite Mr Michie’s appeal to the committee, however, it voted in line with a formal recommendation from the council’s planning department to refuse the application.