Public Footpath 52 Diversion Order Site PlanIn May 2014 Northumberland County Council voted to approve the seven storey, 45 unit McCarthy and Stone apartments (13/02289/FUL and 13/02291/CON).

This was despite objections to the design of the scheme from the Council’s own specialist conservation staff, 370+ local objections, and English Heritage calling the scheme a ‘missed opportunity’. 15 people wrote to support the scheme. The site is at the heart of the Hexham Conservation Area, on the site of the old Gilesgate Baths. It is close to nationally important Grade II and Grade II* buildings.

The approved design runs down to Haugh Lane and is 6-7 storeys in height. As proposed, it will result in the loss of all of the mature trees on the site but one. The well-used footpath from Gilesgate to Haugh Lane will be built on, and  a replacement installed to the east of the site. This will be up a narrow ginnel between Gilesgate Court and the new buildings. There will be a period of at least 12-18 months between the closure of the existing footpath and the opening of teh new one when it will not be possible to use the route – the documents make no reference to this fact which will be the subject of a later ‘footpath closure order’.

Site planHexham Civic Society supported to the proposed use of the site but felt that the proposed design was terrible. The scheme is out of scale with Hexham and the moving of the footpath and the felling of the trees is unnecessary. The new footpath will be a tight and dangerous ginnel – See plan adjacent. The current path is open, relatively attractive in its green bankside, and former Baths carpark context, and because of these aspects it does not feel threatening to use. Indeed, it is an “inviting” route. The proposed new path would be none of these things. It would be a narrow route confined and overshadowed by tall buildings which would appear an uninviting and potentially threatening route to use because of its confined nature.

Proposed Haugh Lane Elevation Image C Planning Bureau Ltd

Proposed Haugh Lane Elevation Image C Planning Bureau Ltd

Now, while the scheme has been approved by NCC it cannot be built until approval is given to relocate the footpath. HCS intends to object to the footpath removal and to try to persuade Council and Developers to come back with a better scheme.

We believe that the proposed scheme was approved in haste by a County Council keen to sell off its own land. We do not think the scheme is good enough for Hexham and would like to see the footpath kept where it is and a new scheme brought forward which keeps the trees and a refurbished footpath in place.

The consultation is now open on the footpath closure – ‘Hexham Town (Public Footpath No 52) Diversion Order 2014. If you have a view on this proposed footpath diversion please make it known to Northumberland Country Council not later than Dec 19th 2014. Comments should be addressed to the Legal Services Manager; Northumberland County Council; County Hall; Morpeth; NE61 2EF.

For the Chop - All bar one of these fine trees and the current footpath.

For the Chop – All bar one of these fine trees and the current footpath.

The Consultation Order and plans can be viewed at County Hall in Morpeth, or at Hadrian House, Market Street, Hexham, but is not available to view on the NCC website. A scan of the documents can be viewed on the HCS website here: Public Footpath 52 Diversion Order

with the site plan located here: Public Footpath 52 Diversion Order Site Plan

IHBC writes:

The Victorian Society (Vic Soc) has published its survey of the most Endangered Victorian and Edwardian Buildings in England and Wales, highlighting the continuing plight of architecturally important buildings throughout the country despite signs of economic recovery, while also calling for the VAT on repairs to privately owned homes to be cut to 5% so that fewer historic buildings fall victim to neglect.

The Victoria Society writes:
The Victorian Society has revealed the Top Ten Most Endangered Victorian and Edwardian Buildings in England and Wales 2014 following a national appeal for nominations. All the buildings listed are in real risk of being lost if action is not taken in the immediate future. The Society is also calling for the VAT on repairs to privately owned homes to be cut to 5% so that fewer historic buildings fall victim to neglect. (more…)

Newsletter Draft Autumn 2014.qxdThe autumn HCS newsletter is out next week and members will be receiving their copies through their doors soon.

This month we round up the AGM with a full report and also offer updates on the on-going bus station saga, the Goods Yard site, the vulnerability of the Hexham Green Belt and more.

We also report the recent exhibition by University of Newcastle students at the Forum Cinema (31/07-08/08).

The Summer edition of the newsletter is now freely available to download here:

HCS Newsletter Summer 2014 email version

Heritage Open Days will be taking place nationally and locally from Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th of September 2014. Heritage sites will open their doors for free to reveal their hidden historical gems.

Heritage Open Days is in its 20th year and is England’s biggest and most popular voluntary cultural event. Attractions include bus trails, photography exhibitions, tours, walks and talks that bring to life local history and culture.

The aim is for all residents and visitors to discover some of the county’s hidden heritage treasures, for free. This is part of a national dedication to England’s architecture and heritage. Hexham open days are as below but please see here for Northumberland’s broader list of openings. (more…)

Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment – Notice of site assessment consultation 

Northumberland County Council is consulting on draft site assessments for future housing – the SHLAA.

In order to boost significantly the supply of housing, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires local planning authorities to prepare this document which:

  • Identifies sites with potential for housing;
  • Assesses how many dwellings may be accommodated on a site with potential for housing development; and
  • Assesses when sites are likely to be developed.
  • The information is available at http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/shlaa

A member of HCS Committee has taken a preliminary look at the sites suggested for Hexham. It seems particularly unfortunate that many infill sites have been considered “unsuitable” for housing, and the reason most frequently cited is the paucity of access. By ‘access’, the County Council is referring to ‘vehicular access’, and yet no such assessment is made of these same sites as to whether they are safe for pedestrian and cyclist access. It seems the SHLAA has been driven by developers’ desire to develop easy, out-of-town and greenbelt sites, and the County’s obsession with the car as the apparent only means of transport, when the size and nature of our historic market town make both cycling and walking easy and desirable.

For example, several central Hexham previously developed ‘brownfield’ sites are considered unsuitable because of the steep road and poor sightlines. Isn’t this true of most of the existing homes in the central core of Hexham? And yet people manage. These arguments seem bogus and designed to ensure that Hexham will continue to approve only greenfield ribbon development, biting into our greenbelt and making residents of the area more and more car dependent.

Even with the Police Station site, the statement suggests that the ‘access’ (read vehicular access) onto “busy” Shaftoe Leazes restricts development. And yet the Farmways site east of Hexham indicates “good direct access” – onto a 60mph road!

If you would like to have your say on the SHLAA, there is a form to download at the web address above, or phone the Planning Office at County Hall on 01670 623635 or 01670 623630 before Wednesday 24 September 2014.

Please feel free to print and circulate this poster and please attend our MA Poster 2014 September HCS Exhibitionstudent’s exhibition on the Hexham Workhouse site and the greenfield Craneshaugh site 1-6th September. Please note the presentation by the Course Tutor to which all are invited is now at 3pm on Friday 5th September.  A PDF of the poster can be downloaded here: Poster 2014 September HCS Exhibition.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.