Date for green-belt housing bid public inquiry confirmed

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The date has been set for an appeal against the refusal of a controversial housing application in Ponteland.

Last year, Northumberland County Council’s west area planning committee turned down an outline proposal by Lugano Group for up to 280 homes and other facilities on a site at Birney Hill, which is in the green belt.

A total of 4,310 objections were submitted and there were 487 letters supporting the scheme.

A planning inspector-led public inquiry has been set up following the firm’s appeal earlier this year and it is scheduled to start on January 13.

It will be held at the Newcastle Falcons ground, Kingston Park, and run for up to three weeks.

Ponteland Mayor Carl Rawlings said: “My personal view is that the inspector’s decision will be eagerly awaited by the people of Ponteland.

“The proposal to build at Birney Hill aroused an immense amount of feeling and given that Ponteland’s population is around 11,000 people, more than 4,300 objections represents a high level of engagement.

“In addition to objections by residents, several local organisations objected to the development including Ponteland Town Council, the Civic Society, Newcastle International Airport and the Ponteland Greenbelt Group.

“A main point made in the objections was that the proposed development did not demonstrate special circumstances to build on the green belt. Protection of the green belt has been shown in survey and consultation to be a major concern for Ponteland residents.

“The inspector’s decision has the potential to make a lot of people feel relieved or very unhappy.”