CALLS have been made for residents to 'stand up' and contribute to discussions on a development site before the deadline later this month.

Northumberland County Council commissioned a masterplan to develop the former Hexham Middle School site on Wanless Lane and appealed to the public to share their views.

Initial proposals include a diverse range of housing options, from affordable homes, family houses, and bungalows, to an extra care supported living scheme.

READ MORE: Hopes for school development to alleviate town's housing crisis

Hexham Community-Led Housing (HCLH), a community group of local people who campaign for more affordable homes in the town, said the residents of Hexham need to take action and contribute to the masterplan before it is too late.

Hexham Courant: Dave Clegg, HCLH co-founder and board memberDave Clegg, HCLH co-founder and board member (Image: Dave Clegg)

In 2016, a Hexham housing need assessment as part of the town's Neighbourhood Plan concluded that 340 new affordable homes should be built over five years in Hexham to meet the backlog of current and future housing needs. However, HCLH said only 34 homes were built in this timeframe, amounting to 10 per cent of what was stated in the assessment.

READ MORE: The 'Pedestrian Pound' key to developing former middle school

Castles and Coasts Housing Association performed a similar housing needs assessment in 2022, supporting an affordable homes development on the north side of Corbridge Road in town.

According to Castles and Coasts, the overall housing need increased in Hexham to 540 new homes, amounting to 108 per annum over the next five years.

Castles and Coasts' research also revealed that 400 people left Hexham for housing reasons in the previous five years.

Dave Clegg, HCLH co-founder and board member, said: "Hexham people need to stand up and propose a maximum of affordable homes to meet local need - the whole site in affordable homes wouldn't meet housing need in Hexham. The county is already including some affordable homes, but how many?"

Tenure-blind housing was proposed for the site, a design which helps social integration without affecting property prices.

"It's great that the county council's intention is for a multi-generational and multi-tenure housing community, and tenure-blind, and not a little ghetto of visibly smaller housing more packed together. Tenure-blind is an excellent proposal.

"The county council is emphasising how much consultation will influence the final plan for the site - all Hexham people should participate," Mr Clegg said.

"It's suggested that some homes will be at Hexham's market rent, which is very high and a deterrent for local people. 400 people left Hexham in five years to be able to afford decent homes, to rent or buy."

Wendy Breach, chair of HCLH, said: "The lack of detail in the masterplan suggests a lot of work and decisions still to be done, and a need for a later detailed consultation to maintain the Hexham public's engagement and buy-in."

Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: "Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to give their views on the proposed plans for the former Hexham Middle School site. We really appreciate all your comments. 

“The plans are currently at a design concept stage and there is still a lot of work to be done before we have a detailed proposal for the site but we will be working as quickly as we can on this. We value and are listening carefully to all views and will communicate with local people as plans are developed.

“It is a large and important site and we want to get it right for the people of Hexham. If you haven’t had the chance to share your views our online consultation is open until March 24."

Look at the plans and have your say online at

Barbara Douglas, HCLH's co-housing specialist, said: "While valuing the designated extra-care facility, there can also be other solutions for older people. Many in Hexham wish to downsize and free up homes for others but still live independently and actively in a community.

"Co-operative models for housing, for example in the fine old Fellside building, could be considered - independent but with shared facilities and even shared community space for the wider range of residents."