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

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.

Executive Homes for Hexham Green Fields?

Executive Homes for Hexham Green Fields?

As many of you will know the application for 122 new ‘executive’ houses on the greenfield site at Craneshaugh is to be brought before the West Area Planning Committee at Prospect House, 6pm this Wednesday 18th December. Reference: (Planning Application 13/01208/OUT; 112 dwellings, land south of Craneshaugh, Corbridge Road, Hexham)

Although this is on land allocated for housing dating from the Tynedale Local Plan, HCS and many others have objected to the proposal. Our grounds are primarily that the allocation was based on its being used as a ‘final site’ to satisfy local housing needs – to be used after brownfield sites within Hexham have been exhausted. This is clearly not the case and we feel that premature release of the site will give the green light to the opening up of green belt sites both at the east and western ends of the Town. The vulnerability of the green belt is discussed elsewhere on our site – see also today’s Journal article.

You can read our full objection to the 122 unit Craneshaugh scheme  here.

HCS is not adverse to new development, but unless the release of green field sites is restricted, brownfield sites within the town will not be developed. We point to the workhouse site as a sustainable location, right in the heart of Hexham, and with enough land area to accommodate the whole of Craneshaugh scheme, and the 28 unit greenbelt Housing association scheme which has been proposed for the site opposite the Arnold Clark Garage.

If you would like to make your views known on this please contact Northumberland County Council Officers or your Planning Committee members.

If you feel strongly about the loss of Green Belt around Hexham, then please make your views known

There is a drop in event in connection with these proposals, organised by NCC, from 15.00 to 18.00, followed by a discussion session from 18.30 to 20.30 at Prospect House, Hallgate on Tuesday 19th November.

A recent report by Northumberland County Council’s Corporate Director of
Local Services in the context of the Northumberland Local Plan, Preferred
Options, is explicit:-
To enable the level of economic and housing development required to deliver the preferred strategy, Hexham, Prudhoe, and Ponteland will require land to be deleted from the Green Belt.

The consultation document proposes the broad areas that are considered the most appropriate locations for Green Belt deletion.

The deletion of Green Belt without specific justification of “exceptional circumstances” together with the detail of each deletion is absolutely incompatible with the principle of Green Belt and with current planning policies and must be resisted robustly. We detail below the several reasons why the proposed deletion is totally wrong.


Hexham Exhibition 06 09 13Many thanks to those of you who were able to attend the excellent presentation by MA Urban Design Tutor Georgia Giannopoulou on Friday afternoon. With over thirty people attending the Scott’s Cafe was comfortably full and a lively discussion followed Georgia’s talk. Debate ranged across the issues of developing brownfield land and the historic interest of the 1830’s workhouse, to the intricacies of Co-Housing, a cooperative housing model which was part of the student’s design brief for the site. The exhibition will run until this Wednesday 11th so if you wish to see it do so soon!  Georgia’s powerpoint presentation (3mb) can be viewed here: Workhouse Presentation at Hexham 06 09 13.

HCS will continue to engage with site owners the Helen McCardle Care Trust and with Northumberland County Council to both protect the  historic workhouse buildings, and to encourage an imaginative scheme which will bring the buildings back into use. At around 4ha, the site could accommodate over 100 houses – largely displacing the need for the present ‘green field/green belt’ applications which are yet to be determined by NCC at the east end of Hexham.  Hexham Exhibition 06 09 13 (2)

Newcastle University has stated that they would love to run the same project next year. If the site remains undeveloped, we hope that NCC and HMCT can be actively brought into the project for the benefit of all.  Many thanks to Georgia, her students and her colleagues/fellow tutors for bringing this project about.