Autumn Newsletter CoverAutumn 2018 Newsletter – Out now – With features on shop fronts; Gilesgate baths site; retail and AGM report.


Please join Hexham Civic Society on the evening of the 7th June 2018 for our AGM – Commencing 19:00, followed by a free talk by local Heritage Consultant Sarah Dyer at 19:30. Refreshments available from 18:30. Free event – all welcome.

The following update from the new Hexham BID Board was released 24th May 2018:

BID Update:

The new board of Hexham BID have now completed a review process following the Northumberland County Council Survey.

The feedback from the survey left little doubt that there is a requirement for great change and potentially termination of the BID, it also showed a necessity for a strong business partnership within Hexham to unify the businesses and to drive the town forward.

Without this organisation, revenue streams for promoting the town will be limited. As most are aware Council budgets have been stripped and without a powerful voice from within the town we have little hope of making the improvements necessary.

This is the final opportunity to resurrect the Business Improvement District, it is unlikely that the initial funding through British BIDs would be available again, meaning Hexham wouldn’t have a collective business voice at a town and county council level. This influential commercial voice will be key in ensuring our elected representatives make fully informed decisions that can impact businesses and consumers within the town.

Considering the aforementioned, we ask the businesses to investigate the opportunity of an alteration ballot that will enable Hexham to benefit from the many positive aspects of what a Business Improvement District can achieve. As it stands there are over 300 successful BIDs benefitting their local communities on a daily basis, look no further than Newcastle, Durham and Penrith.

The proposal:

  • Make the BID geographically focused on the town centre.
  • Removal of the mandatory £200 levy.
  • Businesses with a rateable value of less than £5000 will not be required to contribute.
  • There will be a voluntary option for businesses outside of the new curtilage or under the threshold.
  • The levy will remain at 1%.
  • No further BID Levy invoices are to be issued until the shape and direction of the BID is determined.
  • Should the businesses approve the new scheme, all levy payers will automatically receive board approval for membership with full voting rights. All members will have access to full end of year accounts and will be expected to engage with suggestions and ideas.

All employment contracts have been concluded and the intention is to streamline and manage the organisation efficiently.

Engagement, both financially and in time given from all businesses will be key to ensuring a more positive future for our town. We would encourage all businesses to engage with this change for the benefit of our town’s prosperity.

If businesses do not want to engage in improving the town through this option or feel it is up to others to do it, the new proposal will not work and the BID will terminate”.


Revised Bid Boundary Proposal


The Hexham Neighbourhood Plan is entering its important phase of full consultation. Its Regulation 14 statutory Pre-submission Consultation will run from 16th March to 29th April 2018. 

The draft Plan for Consultation is available here along with the FREEPOST Response Form, which includes a summary of the Plan, to be downloaded, completed and returned to the Town Council office.

All Hexham households should have received a copy of the FREEPOST response form inside their April edition of Hex-Press, the town’s newsletter.

Two maps are available showing the sites covered by the Plan policies. One focuses on the town centre; the other shows the wider parish area.

Hard copies of the consultation documents are available from the desk in Hexham Library. Response forms can be completed there and handed back to a librarian for safe storing.

The attention of members is drawn to application :

The well-wooded slope as at present

18/00644/TREECA | Trees in a Conservation Area. Fell: 4 Beech, 6 Holly, 2 Hawthorn, 5 Sycamore, 1 Ash, 5 Elm, 4 Laburnum, 1 Apple, 3 Lime. Pollard: T15 Ash at 10m, T21 Yew at 7m, T16 Yew at 5m, T17-18 Holly and T39-40 Yew at 4m. Crown raise: T32 Beech – remove 4 lowest branches. Sever ivy: T41 Sycamore. Sever ivy and crown reduce: T42 by 2-3m. Re-plant small trees and shrubs on flat ground (amended description) | Old Grammar School Hallgate Hexham NE46 1XD

This site is currently the well-wooded backdrop to the Wentworth car park, at the heart of Hexham Conservation Area, and a gateway to Hexham for many visitors. Those wishing to view the application should visit and enter the ref number 18/00644/TREECA

Alternately the case officer can be emailed via:

Case officer

The applicant’s proposed tree felling plan

Hexham Civic Society members will recall the long battle with developers McCarthy and Stone over the proposed ‘Tower of Mabel’ seven storey retirement scheme for the Old Baths Site on Gilesgate/Haugh lane. This is within the Hexham Conservation Area and Hexham Civic Society objected to the scale of the scheme, its massing, its impact on trees in the conservation area and the relocation of the present footpath to a tight ginnel with no overlooking.

In 2014, despite the concerns of the Council’s Conservation Staff, and Historic England, the Police Architectural Liaison Officer, and over 350 local objectors, the scheme was approved by NCC Planning Committee – reference 13/02289/ful.

In 2017, McCarthy and Stone pulled out of the scheme, citing geological problems. The site was again marketed by NCC who own the site.

One crumb of comfort for residents was the provision in the approved scheme of retention of trees to Gilesgate, the north of Gilesgate Court and a retention of the large sycamore to Haugh Lane. The montages below show retention as clear as day. The Committee Report present in 2014 was also unambiguous on this retention and read:

7.34 The trees on the embankment would be removed in their entirety. Whilst this would be regrettable, it is felt that due to the condition and health of the trees in question an appropriately implemented planting and landscaping scheme would add to the area in the medium to long term. One of the existing Haugh Lane frontage Sycamore trees would however be retained, as would a Hawthorn close to the northwest site boundary and the row of beech trees. The latter are currently at the rear of the Haugh Lane bungalows within the site but, with the proposed re-siting of the footpath through the site, would take on a more prominent position within the streetscene of the footpath link. The combination of the retention of some of the trees, together with a comprehensive replanting scheme would therefore provide a planned approach to maintaining tree cover within the area. In the short term, the retention of the frontage tree on to Haugh Lane, together with the group of trees on the opposite side of the road would mean that whilst longer views may be altered, they would not completely lose the presence of mature trees. As a foreground to the town centre behind the proposal would result in the evolution of the view, rather than complete revolutionary change. The proposal would accord with the provisions of Core Strategy Policy NE1 and Local Plan Policies GD2, NE33 and NE37”.

The approved 2013 scheme showing trees retained

Sadly on the 2nd March, despite Northumberland County Council having been alerted by concerned residents, and having met contractors on site, all trees were felled on the Haugh Lane slopes. We are unaware why contractors were allowed to continue in apparent contradiction of the approved scheme and the restrictions placed by the Decision Notice to 13/02289/ful.

The current owners of the site are believed to be ‘Hexham Hotels Ltd’, a newly formed company with a Gateshead office. Hexham Civic Society is aware of a current ‘Discharge of Conditions’ application for the site, showing the removal of the trees but not yet approved. We also understand that the works are entirely lacking in planning permission, as ‘pre-commencement’ conditions have not been fully discharged.

Site as of 2nd March with trees reduced to stumps

We urge members to make their views known re application 18/00365/DISCON | Discharge of conditions 3 (archaeology), 4 (foul/surface water), 8 (tree protection), 10 (construction method statement), 13 (dust), 15 (contamination 1) and 18 (mitigation report) relating to approved planning application 13/02289/FUL | Former Swimming Pool And Associated Land Gilesgate Hexham Northumberland NE46 3NP

The case officer can be emailed at

While it is too late for the trees on site, now reduced to chippings, we do not believe that the proposed landscaping scheme is acceptable and urge NCC to insist on replacement with extra-heavy standard trees, and the prosecution of the developers. We do not believe that ordinary householders would be given such free reign.

Hexham Civic Society is pleased to see additional publicity given to the cause of Hexham’s historic but unlisted former Workhouse by the campaigners at SAVE – an organisation dedicated to rescuing Britain’s ‘at risk’ historic buildings. HCS has over several years tried to promote the re-use of the former Hexham Hospital for creative new uses – in particular affordable residential – while rumours have circulated that the building owners may go for the demolition option (as supermarket chain Lidl hinted in 2017). We are hopeful that a local group of residents, assisted by Local elected members, and Northumberland County Council will press for a development scheme which retains the existing buildings and makes the now empty site a fitting gateway to the town centre.

The SAVE article can be viewed here.DCIM100MEDIADJI_0030.JPG