Sunday, 17 June 2012

Northumberland West Area Planning Committee considers Prudhoe Town Centre 20th June 2012

Dear Charles

An Open Letter to Reverend Charles Hope Chair of the Prudhoe Community Partnership

Recent events in Prudhoe like the Jubilee Street Party show without doubt the magnificent community spirit that can be generated in Prudhoe. In very significant measure both you personally and the PCP corporately deserve clear praise as facilitators in these matters.

In two days time and after many years, what is anticipated as the  final planning consideration of the Northumberland Estates Prudhoe Town Centre project comes before the West Area Planning Committee of Northumberland County Council.

Last week I brought to your attention what had happened in nearby Newburn when a culvert constructed underneath a housing estate on land owned by Northumberland Estates failed ( This is just one of a number of incidents where the current management of Northumberland Estates have found themselves in unfortunate situations. As I have discovered in recent years these have been well documented embracing places around the county like Alnwick and Amble.

Flooding concerns have been but one issue raised in relation to Prudhoe. I remain firmly of the opinion that there is little appetite in the population of Prudhoe as a whole for a 20th century concrete monstrosity sprawling down the remaining piece of open hillside in the centre of Prudhoe and overlooking housing on three sides. A 21st century development would have been a different matter. One in which the environment and landscape was given true priority.

I note the letters available on public access from yourself in previous years offering essentially support to the development. In particular you offered the view ( in February 2008 that "the possible clash with existing traders should not be too great". With the passing of time I hope there is the Christian humility to recognise that the traders affected in very large measure did not agree with that statement.

Last summer the Northumberland Estates carried out a new public consultation with the citizens of Prudhoe. Are you aware of where the published results are?

Whilst not optimistic that my thoughts will bear much fruit, I would like to suggest that since I anticipate that you will be at this meeting, that you will take the floor and announce that since the project has proved far more contentious than first anticipated and with the recent incident at Newburn along with the lack (I understand) of a detailed flooding study at Prudhoe, the need for which was highlighted by a senior Northumberland County Council engineer in the public meeting 10th November 2011, that you withdraw your support from the project. And if you cannot do it institutionally as the PCP my own considered view is that personally as the town's parish priest representing all interests, you need to do this in  a private capacity.

Yours sincerely Robert Forsythe

To this open letter I received a reply from the vicar indicating that he had a previous engagement and would not be in attendance at this meeting.

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