A plan to put more than one hundred prefabricated homes on a rural paddock in historic Morpeth has residents and the developer at odds.
Both sides say their love of the town, and its history, has dictated their position.
Residents argue 130 manufactured homes, in an over 50s estate called Morpeth Mews, will signal an end to the town's historic street-grid footprint, which has remained relatively unchanged for almost 200 years.
They say it should be refused on heritage grounds.
"The residents who live in the town are very proud of the heritage and conserving that ... People come to visit Morpeth because of the heritage feel of the town, Morpeth Resident Action Group founder Sarah-Jane Dunford said.
Developer Hilton Grugeon's answer to that is a heritage-style hedge around the site, which would make the development invisible. He said the plan was not about making money, but a desire to give new residents a lifestyle opportunity with added security that was close to a village.
He said the town couldn't rely on tourism to keep every small business afloat and the butcher, bakery and the pharmacy were among those that needed a growing population to be able to thrive.
"We want to take the site to its next life, and that's inevitable," Mr Grugeon said.
"I still believe we can do more in Morpeth. Morpeth is the town I relate to and drive through all the time. Our family buys as much as we can from local businesses in Morpeth."
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Two community groups have united to fight the plan. Morpeth Resident Action Group, which formed in response to this proposal, is quickly gaining an army of supporters.
Longstanding Morpeth Heritage Conservation Group, which has a few wins against developers under its belt, is lending its support.
President Norm Bruhn said Maitland council's Morpeth Management Plan and Maitland Local Environment Plan highlighted the need to protect the original street grid of the town.
He noted the proposed site in Little James Street was within the Morpeth Heritage Conservation Area and therefore subject to specific rules.
"The proposal in its current location is not capable of protecting and enhancing the heritage qualities of the existing built environment, or be adequately designed and sited to meet the needs of the community," Mr Bruhn said.
Mr Grugeon bought the site after Maitland council rejected Scott Property Development's plan for a seniors village in 2015 on heritage grounds, saying it was vital to protect the town's heritage.
The site has had several proposed developments over the years and every one of them have hit a dead end.
Why does Mr Grugeon think his fate will be different? He told The Mercury his vision for what the town could be led him to secure it and he has time on his side to work through any issues with the council and residents.
When asked if this plan would yield him higher profits in a shorter timeframe, compared with a traditional development, Mr Grugeon said "it's not profit driven, it's outcome driven".
He went on to say it complemented his other development offerings and appealed to a different kind of buyer.
The project is deemed a suitable land use under the current zoning.
If the plan is approved it would be created in three stages. Buyers could expect to pay around $350,000 for a three bedroom, two bathroom, home with a garage. Entry level homes would be around $280,000.
The fee to rent the land would be around $150 per week and eligible pensioners would receive a government subsidy to help them meet the cost.
The concept is virtually the same as Mr Grugeon's Morpeth Gardens development, which is less than one kilometre away.
Maitland council has asked for feedback by October 5.
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