Councils respond to housing assessments

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Various parish and town councils across the county have had their say on a document which identified potential sites for new homes.

Northumberland County Council sought comments on its Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), which assessed various areas of land.

They have been identified by landowners, developers, planning agents and the local authority and a colour-coded map showed green sites that could be developed in the next 15 years, as well as those areas where development is uncertain (amber), or discounted (red).

As the SHLAA is not a policy document, it will not by itself determine whether a site should be allocated for housing or granted planning permission.

However, it will inform the emerging Northumberland Local Plan and the county council’s five-year supply of deliverable sites.

Pegswood Parish Council disagreed with a few of the assessments in its response.

On the Pegswood Industrial Estate, which was given a red assessment, it says: “We do not agree that this site should be discounted.

“The land lies within an existing housing area and is close to the school and other services and facilities. It would make sense to allocate the site for housing and relocate it to the area referenced 6797 (land next to the Pegswood bypass and west of the fire station). Discussions on this possibility are taking place.”

One of the green areas is a site that lies to south of the western entrance to Pegswood and west of the existing settlement, but the parish council believes most of the site should be discounted.

It says: “Further development to the west would be distant from the centre of Pegswood and unlikely to sustain existing services and community facilities compared with other sites closer to the centre of Pegswood.

“The existing boundary to the west of Pegswood is well defined. Development to the west of the existing settlement boundary would have an adverse impact on the countryside park to the north and current well-stated entrance to Pegswood with its listed building and would be prominent in an open landscape.”

It agreed with the decision to discount a big area of land north of the Countryside Park Phase I, saying: “The site is too large in relation to – and too far from – the existing Pegswood settlement.

“It is the local desire to see development either within or close to the existing settlement to sustain existing services and community facilities.

“In addition, this site should remain an open countryside landscape proposed to be within a green belt. The open countryside landscape is an important wild life corridor separating the existing Pegswood settlement from properties in Longhirst parish.”

The site east of Pegswood First School and its grounds and the one north of the Cookswell housing estate (6941) meet the parish council’s criteria, so it agrees with their green rating.

The additional comments for 6941 included the following: “We identify this site as most suitable for social housing, with starter homes and a high element of affordable housing.”

As part of the SHLAA process, officers assessed each site’s suitability for housing and the likelihood of development coming forward in the future (the availability and achievability).

Ponteland Town Council decided to focus on the amber areas because of the uncertainty attached to these sites.

They include a large chunk of land either side of the A696 on the stretch of road coming into Ponteland from the Dobbies roundabout, strips to the east and south west of Darras Hall and land next to North Road and Berwick Hill Road.

Its response said: “All amber sites identified are green belt and should remain protected.

“Large scale development on these sites would have a significant detrimental effect on the character of Ponteland.

“The county council has identified over 50 hectares of ‘brownfield’ and ‘mainly brownfield’ land available for development within a five-mile radius of Ponteland. The development of brownfield land should be encouraged before any release of green belt land is considered.”

The housing site proposed by Lugano at Birney Hill was given a red rating by officers.