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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Green light for Maryport homes plan

A meeting to discuss plans for 152 homes at Netherhall in Maryport was disrupted last night after a row erupted between the chairman and protestors.

Allerdale council’s development panel approved Story Homes’ plans for Deer Park after a meeting lasting two hours and 40 minutes, despite a 2,059-signature petition and 203 letters of objection.

But the meeting was briefly adjourned 20 minutes in after a speech by archaeologist David Breeze, who said the site was of international significance, was met by applause from the public.

Chairman Peter Bales said the public gallery would be cleared if observers clapped, cheered or booed again.

When Maryport resident Maurice Tate asked why it was not allowed, Coun Bales ordered him to leave and called a 10-minute break, while vice-chairman Peter Kendall suggested the police should be called.

After the break Coun Bales allowed Mr Tate and the rest of the public to stay as long as they did not disturb the meeting.

Objectors raised concerns about the development’s impact on a site close to the town’s protected Roman Fort and possibly home to Roman remains.

They argued that the site should be protected as a green wedge at the edge of the town and the development could cause road safety problems and hit tourism.

More than 50 people attended the meeting and a protest was held outside beforehand.

Resident Kelly Davis said: “We have barely any manufacturing left here and tourism is the only realistic source of future employment.

“Just at the point when Maryport is becoming a credible tourist destination you’re proposing approving a development which will utterly destroy the entrance to the town.”

Shaun Ritson, of the Friends of Deer Park, said was concerned about road safety, especially for pupils walking to and from Netherhall School, opposite the site.

George Kemp, Allerdale councillor for Netherhall, said the A596 was already congested, with more than 1,000 vehicles passing the site between 2.30pm and 3.30pm last Tuesday.

He added that the development could leave Netherhall School and Maryport infant and junior school oversubscribed.

Janet Carruthers of Story Homes said the firm had been working on the project since 2008 and English Heritage had endorsed the scheme 15 times.

She said: “There is no genuine reason for refusal of this site. It’s the single most sustainable site in Maryport.

“No other site in Maryport will be scrutinised as much as this or stand as good a chance as this one.”

The plans have attracted intense scrutiny since they were submitted two years ago.

An initial decision by Allerdale council that they could be considered without an environmental impact assessment was overturned by the Secretary of State after objectors hired a top lawyer.

Miss Carruthers said that, despite new developments and challenges being flagged up throughout the process, all statutory consultees had maintained their lack of objection.

She added: “I think the development will engender pride. It’s the right land, it’s the right place and it’s the right time.”

There has already been interest from potential buyers, she said.

Objectors suggested that the site’s Roman heritage should be explored by an independent group.

But Miss Carruthers said English Heritage had confirmed rescue excavations had been a major contributor to archaeological knowledge in recent years.

She added: “We will excavate the site fully before we so much as put a spade in the ground to dig foundations.”

Planning officer Rebecca Wilson told the panel that the design of the planned homes had been carefully scrutinised by a Government board and Cumbria Highways was happy with the proposed £100,000 contribution by Story Homes to improve the traffic lights at Netherhall Corner.

Coun Binky Armstrong proposed that the plans should be approved and said the development would bring the school into town more.

Coun Joe Holliday seconded.

But Coun Bill Finlay argued that the site should be given the same value as a designated heritage asset, being within the settlement area around the Roman fort.

He moved refusal, seconded by Coun Nicky Cockburn.

The plans were approved 10 votes to two.

After the meeting, Mr Ritson said: “It’s a disaster for Maryport, it’s as simple as that.

“What we have to do now is look at the safety of the children on Netherhall Road. There are 30 conditions on the planning application. Every one needs scrutinising.”

Have your say

2000 protestors out of 12000 townsfolk. It's a good think for the town and the businesses there. Most of these people are just bothered about their view from the back window, I'm sure they aren't bothered that their house is built on the same roman settlement.
A good decision to approve this.

Posted by Jennifer on 28 June 2013 at 12:50

I have no doubt history will show this development will not be in any sense a disaster. This is an excellent decision by the Planning committee who should be congratulated for seeing the bigger picture beyond the rhetoric of the nimbys. Great news for Maryport and the local economy!

Posted by Dave on 28 June 2013 at 09:32

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