As members may have read about in the press, sustainable transport charity Sustrans have been commissioned to explore views on the Market Place. As many will recall, Hexham Civic Society has long-pressed for the area to be made more of and we welcome this news.

The Hexham Courant reported that  “A public consultation is now under way to collect the views of residents, businesses, market traders and shoppers on how to make the historic heart of the town more attractive and user-friendly.

Supported by funding from Northumberland County Council’s Local Transport Plan, Hexham Town Council invited local businesses to tender for the consultation and design stages of the project.

Three bids were forthcoming and sustainable transport charity Sustrans, which specialises in working with communities to develop designs for change, was appointed.

Since then, Sustrans representatives have made regular appearances at Hexham’s Tuesday market, armed with maps and display boards which encourage people to share their thoughts.

Mayor of Hexham, Coun. Trevor Cessford explained to a meeting of Hexham Town Council on Monday that an interactive website was also up and running to collect comments online.

“The website is called a Sticky World site and allows you to actually target parts of the Market Place and put a sticky note on it with your comments,” said Coun. Cessford.

“All the information received will be put together to help inform us on what people want.

“We’re making this whole process open, honest and transparent.”

Deputy Mayor, Coun. Tom Gillanders, said: “Sustrans are also well aware that the days they have been in the Market Place fall within the school holidays and a lot of people may not be here. But they are looking at this as the first tranche of consultation, if you like, and they are planning more dates once the schools are back.”

The meeting heard that Sustrans would be in the Market Place next Saturday, August 13, and that a public meeting would be held once designs were drawn up.

“Our approach is inclusive and focuses on engagement and consultation,” said Kieran McSherry, design manager at Sustrans North East.

“We would encourage people to engage in our ‘co-design’ process.”

Go to to add your comments online.

Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy:
Pre-Submission Draft – Proposed Major Modifications Consultation

This is your VERY LAST CHANCE to comment on the Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy – in particular its proposed deletion of much of the Green Belt around Hexham and the release of land at Shaw’s Park for 600+ houses. Hexham Civic Society has objected to the proposed modifications. We believe that the population projection figures for Northumberland are way in excess of the projections produced by the Office of National Statistics. We do not believe in housing-led growth and believe that brownfield sites should be prioritised before green field or green belt sites are even considered for release. The Core Strategy is the County Council’s main strategic planning document for Northumberland, covering the period to 2031.

Protect Hexham Green Belt Group has also submitted its petition with in excess of 1,000 signatures, questioning the basis of these figures and the Council’s proposals.

If you have a view, you MUST make it know to NCC by 4pm on Wednesday 27th July.

All consultation documents and the evidence base for the Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy Pre Submission Draft – Proposed Major Modifications are available to view on the Council’s website at

Comments on the Proposed Major Modifications should be submitted to NCC using the ‘Representation Form’ and must be received by 4pm on Wednesday 27th July 2016.

Copies of the representation form and guidance note to help you make a representation are available to download from the Councils’ website at

The preference is for representations to be made online, via the Council’s website, at  If you have commented before, please use your existing registration details (see above). The Council will also accept comments, using the representation forms, via email to or by post.

The consultation document can be viewed via the link below:

Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy Pre-Submission Draft – Schedule of Proposed Major Modifications (live from 15 June 2016).

Thursday 7th July – 14:00 – 19:00, Queen’s Hall – NCC is holding a drop in session re the proposed 900 houses for Hexham contained in the revised draft Core Strategy. These will predominantly be located on current Green Belt land at Shaws farm, opposite Hexham Cemetery. Hexham Civic Society opposes the deletion of the Green Belt and calls on NCC to revise its projected housing targets to realistic levels. We ask that brownfield sites be prioritised before green field and green belt land is even considered for development.
Major modifications consultation – 15 June 2016 to 27 July 2016
Major modifications to a number of the policies and the supporting text in the emerging Core Strategy are proposed before it is submitted for independent examination to address a range of issues raised during the consultation on the pre-submission draft in 2015.

Consultation on these major modifications to the pre-submission draft of the core strategy starts on 15 June 2016 and ends at 4pm on 27 July 2016.

To find out more about this consultation and view the consultation document click on the links below:

Accompanying documents
The consultation document is accompanied by the following documents to help to set the context for the proposed major modifications.

  • A schedule of minor modifications: these are changes that are considered to be not significant in nature and not affecting the policy framework of the plan or its interpretation. Click here to view this document.
  • A version of the pre-submission draft Core Strategy showing both the major modifications and the minor modifications in context. Click here to view this document.

These are provided for information only and comments on these are not being invited nor will they be accepted.

Drop-in sessions
Due to the level of modifications proposed in the consultation document for Hexham, there will be drop-in sessions in these towns on the following days and times:

  • Hexham – Thursday 7 July 2016, 2pm to 7pm at Queen’s Hall, Beaumont Street, Hexham, NE46 3LS.

AGM Poster.qxdHexham Civic Society AGM is this Tuesday, 5th July, 19:00 at the Great Hall, Hexham Abbey, followed at 19:45 by our guest speaker Mr Peter F Ryder

“Sir Reynold’s Privy Purposes: discoveries in Hexham Abbey House 2013-2014”

a talk by Peter F Ryder

The event is free to Hexham Civic Society members or just £2 to non members. Complimentary tea, coffee and wine will be available. Attendance at the AGM is not compulsory!

Please attend if you are able and circulate this email if you wish.

Meeting of Hexham Green Belt Group Tues 14th June at 7.30pm Hexham Cricket Club‏

There will be a meeting of Green Belt Group Tuesday this Tuesday.

The main purpose of the meeting will be to update the Group generally and to discuss the response to the Council’s major modifications consultation which starts next week on 15th June.

As members may  have read about in the press, Northumberland County Council is undertaking consultations on major modifications to draft plan. These modifications once again place Hexham and its green belt under imminent threat. As reported in the local press, County Council planners have reneged on their proposed figure of 720 houses for Hexham and have returned to their ‘going for growth’ 900 figure, most of which will be located at Shaws Lane, Hexham, opposite the Cemetery

Northumberland County Council’s economic growth and strategic transport overview and scrutiny committee reviewed the proposals 24th May 2016 and determined to press ahead, despite representations to the meeting from Town Councillors and Hexham Green Belt Group.

Town Councillor Cath Homer argued “The council has still not established an objectively assessed need for 900 houses in our town. The last thing I want is for the plan to fail at independent examination, but at this moment in time, I fear that could happen.

I am asking scrutiny members today to recommend to cabinet to defer the consultation until a thorough reassessment of the local plan for Hexham at least has been undertaken by council officers.”

Councillor John Riddle argued that what was being recommended for Hexham was not proportionate. “At the moment I think we’re rushing it. We all want this plan to succeed, but it needs to be done properly. The housing projections seem overly optimistic and over the top. It’s a developers’ charter. Meanwhile, Hexham is already bursting at the seams. It took me an hour to get through the town yesterday to an appointment. It’s absolute chaos. I would support a short deferral and a bit more work.”

Councillor Andrew Tebbutt said: “We’re in real danger as a council of being held to ransom by developers. We do not need 24,000 more homes across Northumberland during the plan period. We should have stuck to the original plan of 18,000”.

Mark Ketley, the council’s senior development and delivery manager, said: “There’s a risk of Government intervention if we don’t have a plan in place before early 2017. A huge amount of work has gone in to get the plan to where it is. We’re convinced the proposals are sound and robust. I honestly don’t see what a review would achieve.”

Director of planning and economy, Geoff  Paul, said: “For five years, officers have been lambasted for not getting this plan to fruition. The last thing we need is to delay it any further.”

Committee chairman Councillor Alan Sambrook, suggested events be held in the towns affected as part of the planned consultation.

The committee directed that public events should take place during a consultation on the controversial measures in the key planning document. The consultation is due to take place between June 15 and July 27.

There will be a  DROP IN session on 7 July from 14:00 – 19:00 at the Queens Hall.

The consultation period will be 15 June to 27 July

Modifications and Local Plan Timetable 

Consultation 15 June to 27 July

Responses reviewed July to October

Full Council decision November

Submission December

Examination Spring 2017

Adoption Summer 2017

Link to the document page 90 – 91 etc – Hexham Green Belt

Hexham Civic Society reiterates that the deletion of Hexham’s Green belt to provide for 900 new houses is not acceptable. The Green belt, established in the 1990s to protect Hexham from unregulated sprawl can only be deleted in ‘exceptional circumstances’. We do not believe that these circumstances have been met and do not believe that NCCs ‘going for growth’ strategy is correct.

If you have a view on the above please make it known as soon as possible to your County Councillors.

To feed into the Local Plan consultation go to:

Visit for more information.

Figures published recently by Northumberland County Council show that the Council wants to build thousands of extra houses throughout the county, mainly by reducing the size of the Green Belt around many of the towns and villages in the rural heart of Northumberland. The latest proposals show that NCC want to build over 11,500 more houses in addition to the government’s suggested total of 12,700. That is over 90% more than the total the government reckons we need. If these plans are accepted, then Northumberland will get more than 24,000 extra houses over the next fifteen years.

Two questions:

  • First, do we need 24,000 extra houses in Northumberland?
  • Second, if we do, where are they going to be built?

We know that there is a great shortage of social and affordable housing throughout the county, but you wouldn’t know that from the hundreds of commuter and executive houses built by the volume house-builders. They have successfully reduced the percentage of social and affordable housing in all of their schemes because they know that the County Council will not stand up to them and fight for our communities. They always claim that there is no brownfield land available for them to build on, hoping that no-one will notice they’ve been buying up huge swathes of Green Belt land for years which they then say is the only land available for development.

So why is the County Council proposing that we need 11,500 houses more than the government estimates? We do not know, because NCC has been unable to justify these figures, except to claim that we need these extra houses to stimulate economic growth in the county.

We agree that Northumberland needs to expand economically, but you do not do that simply by building houses. You stimulate economic growth by encouraging business and industry to invest in the county to create the jobs that people need. The county council has got its facts the wrong way round.

Houses follow jobs. Jobs do not follow houses.

Durham County Council is only one of many local authorities that have had their strategic plans rejected by the Planning Inspectorate because they have failed to understand this basic fact of economic life. These excessive housing figures, plucked out of thin air, show that Northumberland County Council hasn’t learnt from the failures of others. It’s time they did, before their plans are also thrown onto the scrap-heap.

We believe that brownfield sites within Hexham should be developed before green field or green belt land is released to developers – these sites include several hectares at the ‘Bunker’ site on Alemouth Road, the former Workhouse site and infill sites throughout the town.

We believe that housing should predominantly be for local need proportionate to growth, not new commuter estates that will benefit the economy of urban Tyneside.

If you have a view on the above please make it known as soon as possible to your County Councillors and their officers.

To feed into the Local Plan consultation go to:

Visit for more information.


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