New school, housing and retail approved for County Hall site

A brand new first school is set to be built on land at County Hall, Morpeth, after being given the green light by planners.

The council’s strategic planning committee were minded to approve plans to relocate Goose Hill First School onto the County Hall site, a £5.7m investment by the council which will also include a play space, multi-use games area and sports pitch.

Planning permission was also minded to be approved for around 200 homes and a commercial development on the site.

Welcoming the decisions, Council Leader Grant Davey said the approvals would have long-term benefits for residents across Northumberland.

He said: “The sale of this site has provided a far bigger windfall than expected, with a total capital receipt of around £20m looking likely.

“A brand new fit for purpose first school to replace a crumbling building and continued investment in market towns across the length and breadth of Northumberland has all been made possible by the sale of our outdated County Hall and the land it sits on.

“We appreciate these proposals generated a lot of discussion. We must be clear that this was a very transparent process and all views and comments made in response to the planning applications were taken into account by the Strategic Planning Committee today.

“We live in a democracy and people have every right to protest but the Government is clear that Neighbourhood Plans are not there to prevent development from taking place.

“As a council we are committed to supporting the creation of thousands of new jobs and with that brings the need for more housing and the requirements that brings, such as places to shop and eat.

“The North East England Chamber of Commerce believes high quality housing is a vital element in ensuring the region’s businesses are able to attract and retain the skilled workforces they need to succeed.

“Their members have called for more houses of all sizes to be built the region, as a mix of housing is needed to support local facilities and promote the region to those just embarking on their careers, as well as those who are more established.

“We are confident the retail plans approved will complement the offer already available in the many fine shops and businesses in the town centre and we hope organisations which choose to come to the new development are of a high quality.

“The government is encouraging councils to think differently in these difficult economic times and future generations as well as thousands of residents across Northumberland are set to benefit from our sale of the site and the educational and financial spin off that will have.”

The planning applications will now be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit which will either confirm the council’s decisions, or pass them to the Secretary of State to make a decision.
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