Mixed response to new housing bid for key site

NEW accommodation plans for the centre of Ponteland have been unveiled.

A change of use application has been submitted for the Belville House area in Bell Villas, which would include the erection of extensions to provide a new apartment block for 30 flats.

Much of the existing vacant building mass would be demolished and restoration works would be carried out to the one built in the 19th century.

A total of 27 car parking spaces would be provided.

The bid by McKenzie Real Estates Ltd has received a mixed response from Ponteland Town Council’s planning committee, as members welcomed the change of use from office to residential in principle but they have raised a couple of concerns.

Agent for the applicant Neil Elborn said in the design and access statement: “Investigations and a review of local archive material has determined that only the original 1840s building to the left of the current building mass has historical merit and other elements of the building facing Ponteland Road were reconstructed in the early 1980s.

“The proposal is to restore the original fenestration to a sash window style in keeping with a building of that era and remove the UPVC bay window at the front of the building.

“The remainder of the building will be demolished and the stone salvaged for the reconstruction of the new development.

“The frontage along Ponteland Road is long, so the new central section is raised to a two-storey block, with attic apartments in the roof space.

“And the accommodation either side of the central block would be two-storey with lower eaves levels at the site boundaries, similar to the day nursery, to reflect the scale of the adjoining buildings.

“To the rear of the site, the additional new block facing Eland View would be two-and-a-half storeys, with accommodation on three levels.”

He added that the development has been designed in such a way to prevent overlooking issues and the application has been amended from the one submitted in 2012 to respond to concerns raised by county council planning officers.

Ponteland Town Council’s planning committee discussed the bid at its latest meeting on Tuesday.

Committee chairman Liz Thompson said: “We’re not against the change of use to residential apartments and we welcome the one-bedroom accommodation coming forward because it could help young professionals from Ponteland to stay in the area.

“However, we’re not happy with the proposal to demolish most of the frontage because it would damage the street scene, which is in a conservation area, by taking away some of its character.

“We also think that there aren’t enough car parking spaces in the application and so the development would add to traffic problems in the area.”

The company previously put forward plans to turn the offices into a boutique hotel. They were refused in 2009 by the former Castle Morpeth Council.

A year later, it submitted an application for a new care home in the same area. It was later withdrawn.