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.

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.

As reported in the local and National Press, the draft Durham Local Plan has come under fire by its Planning Inspector over ambitious growth scnarios that have echoes in Northumberlands proposals: Inspector-savages-durham-local-plan (paste Inspector savages Durham local plan  into google for unrestricted article).

Planning Resource Magazine states that ‘In his interim findings on the draft document, inspector Harold Stephens was critical of many of its key aspects.

The letter said that the plan’s “reliance on high employment growth and associated high levels of in-migration that is built into the preferred economic scenario represents an unacceptable risk which I cannot support on the basis of the evidence before me”.

As such, he added, “it brings into question whether there would be a potential degree of housing over-provision derived from this element of the jobs target”.

The inspector said a “more cautious jobs growth target, reducing the reliance on in-migration, would be a more realistic and deliverable scenario that would reduce the evident risk that the planned level of housing might well be forthcoming but the anticipated jobs may not”.

The letter also said that the council’s approach to focus development in and adjacent to the City of Durham “necessitates huge releases of green belt land around the city, which I cannot support”.

Planning Resource Magazine, 18 February 2015 by Michael Donnelly

With the period for public comments having just closed on the Northumberland Local Plan, with its vision of housing growth in excess of that predicted by the Office of National Statistics, and consequent release of Green Belt land to accommodate this aspiration, it will be intersting to see what view of the Northumberland Inspector will have. HCS objected to the deletion of Green Belt at Hexham – in particular the removal of the large Shaws Farm site from the present Green Belt boundary.

The story is also covered in the Newcastle Journal here.

The Core Strategy Full Draft Plan for Northumberland  will be available for you to view and comment between the following dates:

Start date: 12/12/14 00:00

End date: 11/02/15 23:59

The plan can be viewed here:

In Hexham several areas of land presently designated as Greenbelt is identified for deletion and allocation as housing sites, including further ribbon development at the east end of the town. A further large swathe of land ‘Shaw’s Farm’ at the west end of Hexham is identified for designation as ‘safeguarded’ land – that is, land protected from development until the end of the plan period (2031) but thereafter to be developed for housing/mixed use.

Extract from Draft Plan showing proposed deletion of greenbelt (buff and orange) - Crown Copyright.

Extract from Draft Plan showing proposed deletion of greenbelt (buff and dark orange) – Crown Copyright.

This land is presently protected by a Greenbelt designation which the draft plan proposes to delete. HCS objected to the initial draft and wished to see the greenbelt maintained as at present to preserve the setting of Hexham and to focus development on brownfield sites within the town. We felt that the ‘aspirational’ population targets desired by the County Council were excessive. HCS will be considering its own view and formulating a full response in the New Year. As ever, we would welcome the views and input of our members on this issue.

‘Drop in’ events with planning officers present will take place across Northumberland in the New Year. In Hexham these events will be: Thursday 8th January 1pm – 7.30pm Hexham Prospect House and on Saturday 24th January 10am – 2pm Hexham Prospect House.

To read online and comment:


Address: Planning and Housing Policy Team, Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 2EF. Telephone 0845 600 6400

HCS Newsletter Winter Spring 2014 cover thumbFree to HCS members – containing updates on:

  • The threats to Hexham Green belt – the east-end has fallen – will the west go next?
  • The Bus Station sell off and the fight to keep Benson’s Monument in situ
  • Hexham Town & County Councillors – will they come out and fight for Hexham?
  • Also – Super Depot Proposal, Hexham Train Station and more.

If you would like to join us and receive your free copy, use our  HCS Membership Form

HCS are sad to report that the 122 Craneshaugh ‘executive homes’ proposal for Craneshaugh, east end of Hexham, was approved unanimously and with little debate by the West Area Planning Committee on Wednesday. HCS Secretary Paul Wharrier spoke on behalf of HCS in objection to the scheme which is proposed by Hexham Auction Mart.  We highlighted the shortfall of affordable housing on the site and the prematurity of its release when brownfield sites within the town stand idle. Unfortunately, now this greenfield allocation has been soaked up, the greenbelt is now more vulnerable.

There was no debate from Councillors about the clear failure to develop brownfield sites in Hexham in preference to this premature greenfield release.  HCS supports the provision of well-designed new housing but wishes to see brownfield, sustainable sites within the town used in preference to greenfield sites. We are opposed to the deletion of the greenbelt as proposed in NCCs core strategy.

We urge members concerned about NCCs proposed deletion of the greenbelt around Hexham to make their views known to NCC as soon as possible. The deadline for comment is 31st December.

To make your views known to NCC email them at NCC, or see the Save Hexham’s Green Belt group’s site here.