PLANS for a £7.2m housing development in Bellingham have been recommended for refusal when it goes before a council's planning committee.

Developer Maple Oak Living wants to build 64 new homes, including 20 assisted living apartments, on the site of the village's former auction mart.

But in his report ahead of the meeting of Tynedale Local Area Council Planning Committee next week, planning officer Neil Armstrong said: "By virtue of the scale, massing and design of the proposed apartment block the layout, design and use of materials of the overall scheme, as well as the limited open space and landscaping throughout the development, it is not considered that the proposal would result in an acceptable and well-designed scheme that would be well related to the character of the site and the historic form of Bellingham given its prominent location within the settlement, and would result in harm to the setting of non-designated heritage assets.

"Whilst there are benefits that weigh in favour of the proposed development, it is not felt that these would outweigh the harm in this case to the character of the site and the surrounding area."

He added the proposal would therefore be contrary to policies of the Northumberland Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework.

Mr Armstrong also said the plans do not "achieve an acceptable design in terms of amenity" and that "there is insufficient information submitted with the application to confirm that the proposed levels of parking associated with the proposed development will not have an adverse impact on the residential amenity of proposed and existing residents and in terms of highway safety".

Bellingham Parish Council has objected to the scheme, and 17 other objections have also been received.

The plans to transform the Bellingham Auction Mart site, which has been vacant since 2002, by building 60 affordable new homes were first submitted by Maple Oak last year.

But at the beginning of the year, some of the plans for the development had been amended and resubmitted following comments from local residents, Bellingham Parish Council and Northumberland County Council, the housing development company said.

This included an increase in the number of properties within the proposed housing block, as well as a change in materials.

A letter sent to Northumberland County Council planning officers on behalf of Maple Oak Living alongside the amended plans at the time said: “Maple Oak Living has taken great care to ensure the proposed development responds to the comments of local residents, the parish council and Northumberland County Council. Wherever possible the proposals have been updated to address those comments, whilst recognising the scheme is at the margins of viability which is reflected in the site having stood vacant for many years, despite previously benefitting from planning permission.

“There is a demonstrated need for affordable housing in the area and the tenure mix now proposed ensures the development will be accessible to more people. The addition of further support within the apartment building will specifically assist in addressing the shortage of this type of accommodation in the area.”

Members of the planning committee are to make a final decision on Tuesday.