Tuesday, 2nd April, 2013
6:00 p.m.
Council Chamber, County Hall, Morpeth
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

TN Thorne (Chairman)

AR Armstrong, S Davey, JB Fearon, JJ Gobin, EI Hunter, I Hutchinson, P Kelly, D Ledger, D Moore, ICF Swithenbank, JA Taylor, G Todd
T Graham - Solicitor
J Long - Project Planning Manager Sustainable Transport
L Little - Democratic Services Officer
G Newcombe - Environmental Protection Manager
J Nugent - Senior Planning Officer
S Seabury - Planning Officer
F Wilkinson - Strategic and Urban Team Manager
Also present:
Councillors T Brechany, D Woodard

S Rickitt, S Thistlethwaite
Press: 1 Public: 8
Item Number Item/Description

Apologies were received from Councillors Daley and Watkin.

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Planning and Environment Committee held on Tuesday 5 February 2013, as circulated, be agreed as a true record and signed by the Chairman.

The Project Planning Manager introduced the report to the Committee stating that the scheme had been proposed due to the concerns of a large number of local residents who had responded to the consultation and would be funded by the Local Ward Councillor.

A Councillor queried whether the number of signs proposed was in accordance with the latest Department of Transport guidelines regarding de-cluttering of the highways, as he felt that the 70 proposed signs was excessive.  The Officer confirmed that this was the minimum number of signs which would need to be provided according to regulations.  A Councillor with local knowledge of the area highlighted that the proposed scheme covered several estates and therefore the number of signs was not excessive.  He confirmed a similar scheme provided in his own ward 20 years ago had worked well and no complaints had been received.

Councillor Gobin proposed acceptance of the recommendation to approve the scheme which was seconded by Councillor Hunter and unanimously agreed.

RESOLVED that the Corporate Director of Local Services be advised that the Committee noted the objections and to proceed with the introduction of the  20 mph Speed Limit on Elsdon Avenue, Fontburn Road and Tillmouth Road and all adjoining streets in Seaton Delaval


The Project Planning Manager introduced the report to the Committee stating that the proposal had been put forward by Cramlington Town Council who would also fund the scheme.  It was noted that enforcement of the scheme could only be carried out by the Police.

The proposal to accept the recommendation as set out in the report was made by Councillor Swithenbank, seconded by Councillor Hunter and agreed.

RESOLVED that the Corporate Director of Local Services be advised that the Committee noted the objections and to proceed with the implementation of the 20 mph Speed Limit on Parkside Chase and Parkside Dale in Cramlington.

The report outlined the applications to be determined by the Committee in accordance with current arrangements. Members were reminded of the principles which should govern their consideration of the application, the procedure for handling representations, the requirement of conditions and the need for justifiable reasons for the granting of permission or refusal of planning applications. The procedure at Planning Committees was also appended for information.
160 12/03715/FUL

The Chairman informed Members that the application was before this Committee as it was a County Council application. 

The Planning Officer introduced the report to the Committee with the aid of slides.  It was stated that the County Archaeologist had raised no objections to the proposal.  It was confirmed that an area of land adjacent to the existing rail line was excluded from the proposed site for future development of a rail halt and  the proposal would not result in the land to the north of the site being completely landlocked as a field access would be retained and this was considered to be sufficient for agricultural use. In response to a letter of representation and in consultation with the applicant, an additional condition which would require a scheme for the inclusion of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures to be agreed prior to the construction of any dwelling at the site was proposed.  The Committee were informed that the proposal would assist in meeting the shortfall of housing delivery in the former Blyth Valley area and would also provide affordable housing units in an area where there was an identified need. All properties for social renting from the Council would be under the management of Homes for Northumberland and allocated under the Homefinder scheme.

S Rickitt, the Assistant Town Clerk for Blyth Town Council addressed the Committee.  He brought the Members attention to questions raised by the Town Council to which a very late response had been received from Officers and asked for clarification on the following points :

  1. The application site was adjacent to the proposed halt for passengers on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Railway. On the plans, there was a lack of space reserved for a transport interchange and only a bus lay-by was indicated.

  2. Road traffic to the rail halt would be using the main estate road, is this correct and/or desirable?

  3. Would the existing mini-roundabout at Newcastle Road / Laverock Hall Road be removed on construction of the mini-roundabout for the estate? If not, then why not, as there would be two mini-roundabouts in close proximity.

  4. The land to the south of the proposed development was susceptible to flooding. What measures would be taken to prevent flooding of the development?

The Planning Officer clarified that Network Rail and Sustainable Transport had confirmed there were no proposals for a transport interchange at the rail halt and the minimum criteria would be for bus lay-by.  This was outwith the proposed application the Committee were being asked to consider.  The Project Planning Manager stated there was no detail of the design of any future rail halt, however the suggested access by the estate road was felt to be the best option at the present time.  He confirmed that the existing mini-roundabout would remain.  The Committee were informed that a Flood Risk Assessment had been carried out and a condition had been included to address any potential risk.  It was clarified that the existing trees on the site were not considered of any great value and would be removed, however a landscaping scheme was required to be submitted for approval by the Planning Authority within three months of any permission granted.

The proposal to accept the recommendation as outlined in the report with the additional condition in respect of renewable energy and energy efficiency was made by Councillor Kelly, seconded by Councillor Hunter and agreed.

RESOLVED that the application be GRANTED for the reasons and with the conditions outlined in the report with the additional condition as outlined above.

161 12/03138/CCMEIA

The Senior Planning Officer introduced the report to Committee with the aid of a slide presentation.  He highlighted the objection from Ulgham Parish Council along with an objection from Northern Power related to the Linton Sub-station; he confirmed however that this could be addressed by a condition related to vibration which had been agreed by Northern Power.  Members were informed that public representations had been made both in objection to the application and expressing their support.  The working method of the site was outlined along with the number of HGV trips in and out of the site along with their proposed route and separate access to the site. 

Councillor Woodard addressed the Committee.  He stated that he was not in objection to the planned development but expressed his concern regarding the site operated by the Company at Pegswood Moor had not yet been restored after many years.  A presentation of new plans for restoration had been made to relevant town and parish councils in November 2012 with minor amendments still to be agreed.  He requested that if the application before the Committee tonight was approved, the applicant be requested to complete restoration of the Pegswood Moor site prior to any coal extraction on the new site by way of a S106 agreement which would be similar to that used at Butterwell where one site had to be completed prior to the commencement on the next.

S Thistlethwaite spoke on behalf of the applicant in support of the application.  He thanked the Committee for taking the time to visit the site prior to consideration of the application and also the staff for their report which he felt considered the key issues and provided a balanced approach. He stated that the approval of the application was important for the local economy and businesses.  The Company was locally operated with 400 employees, 200 of which were in Northumberland.  He highlighted Northumberlandia which had attracted 50,000 visitors since its opening.  The Community had helped shape the plans for this application site by their attendance at community workshops where the proposals had been explained and amended when possible to address local issues, i.e. the operation of the site shortened by a year; the compound being centrally located; and 2 separate access points provided.  The views of residents in respect of restoration proposals had also been taken into consideration.  The high requirement for coal was highlighted during the recent spell of bad weather when gas supplies were short along with the real investment back into Northumberland. 

The Solicitor informed the Committee that a legal agreement could not be used in this instance as the application was acceptable on its own merits and there was no linkage between the two sites.  He mentioned a Scottish case was had emphasised it.  The Strategic and Urban Development Manager stated that the application differed from the one at Butterwell as there had been linkage related to the cumulative impact in that area.  She highlighted the three tests which would need to be met for a Section 106 agreement to be entered into and in this instance the link between the two sites would not meet these tests.  A Member of the Committee congratulated the officers on the report as he felt it was one of the best he had seen in a long time, which was endorsed by other Members.  He stated that whilst he would support the application he considered there should be a completion date for the restoration of sites in this area of Northumberland as there were several uncompleted sites.  He questioned why this could not be tied down as a condition or as a S106 agreement in light of the Officer's recommendation to approve the application.

The Solicitor responded by stating that under paragraph 149 of the NFFP if the application was deemed to be acceptable on its own merits then it was not pertinent to request additional benefits and should be granted approval.  If the application had shortcomings then paragraph 149 stated that community benefits could be asked for as an extra benefit to make up a gap, however there were no shortcomings in this application.  The Committee were reminded that they could only consider the application as set out and it was considered environmentally acceptable and met the NPPF.

The Chairman requested that pressure be put on the Developers to address the issue of restoration as this was of great concern to both local Ward Councillors and Members of the Committee and this request be endorsed by the Planning Officers.

The following points were provided in clarification of questions by Members of the Committee :

  • All wagons would be sheeted prior to leaving the site and once in the confines of the Port of Blyth would be under Port regulations and must be operated within the terms of their Environmental Permit.

  • The caravan park was approximately 1.2km from south east of the site.  HGVs would pass the entrance to the caravan park and whilst this was located on a bend, it was on quite an open stretch of road.

  • Extraction would be in 4 phases over a 3 year period.

  • There were no proposals for auger mining on the application site.

The proposal to approve the recommendation as outlined in the report and by the Senior Planning Officer was proposed by Councillor Hutchinson who stated that the applicant had heard the Committee's concerns regarding the Pegswood site and asked them to bring this to a conclusion. This was seconded by Councillor Hunter and agreed.

RESOLVED that the application be GRANTED for the reasons and with the conditions as outlined in the report with the additional condition related to vibration as reported above. 


As this would be the final time he would Chair this Committee, the Chairman thanked Members and Officers for their support.  A Member responded by stating that the Members recognised the Committee had been well led over the last four years.

The meeting closed at 7.05 pm
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