LEADING councillors in Northumberland say that changes to planning policy in recent years will put an end to issues seen on housing estates around the county.

There have been a number of cases in recent years that have put new residents at loggerheads with housing developers. However, these issues have been put down to historical issues that have now been addressed.

Issues include unfinished roads and footpaths in Cramlington that left residents claiming they felt like “prisoners” in their own homes.

Elsewhere, there were similar issues in Blyth, while developer Bellway was criticised for leaving construction waste on its St Mary’s Manor site in Stannington.

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But now, with changes to the council’s planning policies, it is hoped that these problems will become a thing of the past. Northumberland County Council’s cabinet member for planning,

Councillor Colin Horncastle said: “Historically all local authorities had problems, particularly with highways issues.

“We have some in Cramlington that go back 20-odd years. It’s because, historically it is quite difficult to get them to complete even though they will have to do it at some point.

“In recent years, we have a completely new system where everything is staggered and Section 106 agreements for everything like health, education and highways is all built in. Highways and footpaths now have to be done at a certain stage rather than at the end.

“What developers were doing was building some houses and things like pavements were getting left to the end. That will not happen any more.

“It was obvious there was a problem. All the new planning officers saw that the situation was not good.

“We didn’t have a stick to beat developers with other than the final sign-off. It was a situation where we couldn’t allow this to go on.

“We have put an end to that happening. Everything has proper procedures in place to stop it happening so it is fair to everybody – to the homeowners, the local authority, the developers and the existing residents.”

The leader of the council, Cllr Glen Sanderson, added: “We always do everything in our power to ensure housing developers live up to their commitments and responsibilities. This can be challenging and sometimes we are asked to help or take action when issues occur between some developers and residents newly moved in.

“Sometimes this can lead to real heartache for these residents who have placed a lot of money into their new homes and I have every sympathy for them. We will of course look at what more we can do during the review of our Local Plan though we can only go as far as national legislation will allow us to.”