More details revealed of controversial homes plans

MORE details about a controversial housing proposal will be unveiled to the Ponteland public next week.

Banks Property, part of the Banks Group, has begun a public engagement programme around its Ponteland Garden Village scheme at Clickemin Farm that could see up to 500 properties being constructed on a greenfield site.

Detailed plans are currently in development and remain some distance away, but it will be sharing its initial ideas for the site on both sides of the A696 – behind Cheviot View up to Rotary Way and also behind Ridgley Drive – at an exhibition on Wednesday.

Representatives will be on hand to answer any queries and gather feedback from those who attend, which will be used as part of the design development process.

The company has indicated that there will be some community benefits if the scheme goes ahead, but residents and local organisations have expressed concerns about the potential scale of the development as they believe the area’s infrastructure could not cope with such an influx of people.

They have also said brownfield sites should be the priority for new housing.

Managing Director of Banks Property Michael Shuttleworth said: “Whilst our design work is still at a very early stage, we are trying to provide as much information as we can about the nature and location of our proposed development as early as we can.

“The Banks project team has already made direct contact with a number of local individuals and groups to get their initial feedback on our ideas, and our aim is to use this exhibition to gather comments, views and ideas from a wider cross-section of the community.

“This information we pick up will directly influence the planning application that will eventually be submitted to the county council, and we hope as many local people as possible will be able to come along and talk to us.

“We will provide every possible opportunity over the coming months for all interested parties to put forward their ideas about how this scheme might be shaped.”

“Having reviewed the options available, we believe that the site we have chosen is the most appropriate location for development, as Ponteland does not have the amount of brownfield land required to address its housing needs solely through the redevelopment of that type of site.”

He added that the project could also help to meet the need for more affordable housing units.

If it is approved, Banks would need to put some money into a Community Infrastructure Levy that would be spent by the county council on areas such as the road network, schools and drainage.

The company has mentioned that it could make a contribution to other schemes, including the Ponteland Sporting Project.

Among the organisations that are against the proposal is Ponteland Civic Society.

Its Chairman, Philip Ham, said: “We do not want to see piecemeal developments on the Green Belt taking place in Ponteland, as this proposal would be, along with others currently in the pipeline.

“Developers should wait for Northumberland County Council’s Local Plan to be approved next year and make their proposals in line with that rather than trying to jump the gun.

“Banks’ main interests are in mining rather than housing and it is quite possible that, having secured planning permission for a part of the Green Belt, they could sell it on to a regular house-builder and make a handsome profit from the deal. If this were to happen, no-one could be certain that promises made by Banks would be honoured by successive developers.”

The exhibition will take place in Ponteland Leisure Centre between 3pm and 7pm.

Anyone who is unable to attend the event, but would like more information about the Ponteland Garden Village proposal, can contact Banks’ community relations team by calling 0191 3786100 or emailing ponteland@banksgroup.co.uk