Banks Property has expressed its disappointment at a ‘lost opportunity’ after withdrawing plans for a new high-quality residential development on the south western edge of Ashington.

The County Durham-headquartered firm had been looking for permission to build up to 186 family homes on a 7.8 hectare site which would have been accessed by a new road junction onto Wansbeck Road.

A planning application was submitted to Northumberland County Council in November 2022, with Banks Property carrying out extensive consultation work across the area over a two-year period to enable local residents, businesses and community leaders to give their ideas on what was being proposed.

Dozens of letters of support were submitted to the County Council by people living and working in the area, while Banks recently offered to double the project’s affordable housing allocation from the Council’s policy requirement of ten per cent up to 20 per cent after receiving a significant number of enquiries from local people seeking affordable housing.

But having been advised that the County Council’s planning officers were still expected to recommend that the planning application should be refused, the family firm has now withdrawn it with a view to reviewing how it might fit in with the expected future evolution of local planning guidance.

The Wansbeck Road development would have delivered a range of modern, energy efficient and sustainable house types, including bungalows and affordable housing, and each property would have come equipped with its own electric car charging point.

Around 75 jobs would have been directly supported on-site during the construction of the new homes, along with a further 63 jobs off-site, and a range of contract opportunities would also have made available to local suppliers for different aspects of the project’s development.

Improvements to local footpaths and road infrastructure, a range of ecological enhancements and a biodiversity net gain of at least ten per cent for the local environment would also all have followed.

Jamilah Hassan, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “We still firmly believe that the Wansbeck Road site is extremely well suited to the type of high-quality development we were proposing, especially given its proximity to the new Ashington train station, and are very disappointed that we’ve reached the point where we’re having to withdraw our plans.

“This is a lost opportunity to deliver a wide range of economic, employment, environmental, supply chain and social benefits to the area, and to create more opportunities for people who want to move to or stay in this area to do just that.

“The positive impact of our offer to double the allocation of affordable homes at Wansbeck Road from ten to twenty per cent, which followed from a significant number of enquiries from local people who were looking for affordable housing, also seems not to have been fully appreciated.

“Very few developments in Northumberland have been able to make adequate provision of affordable housing and almost no schemes have provided bungalows, as Wansbeck Road would have done.

“Our ambition remains to create a thriving new community at Wansbeck Road that is a positive addition to South East Northumberland and we will continue to examine the ways in which this objective might be achieved in the future.”