Residents get a first glimpse of garden village plans

Artist impression of a section of housing at the proposed Ponteland Garden Village.
Artist impression of a section of housing at the proposed Ponteland Garden Village.

OUTLINE plans for a major new housing estate in Ponteland have been unveiled to residents.

But people living next to the proposed site and other members of the community have hit out at Banks Property’s proposals for up to 500 homes, claiming that it would cause harm to the area and their way of life.

Dubbed ‘Ponteland Garden Village’, the company says it would provide a mix to suit all levels of the market including affordable housing, properties aimed at families and accommodation for retired people.

It would also help to improve important infrastructures and facilities in Ponteland.

Its early thoughts for the Clickemin Farm development site, which is located behind Cheviot View up to Rotary Way and also behind Ridgley Drive, were presented at an exhibition in Ponteland Leisure Centre.

More than 300 people turned up and among the residents to attend was Lesley Noble, who lives in Cheviot View.

“There is mass opposition from the residents of Ponteland to these proposals and any other proposals to build on the Green Belt and I hope Banks Property got this message clearly from those who came along,” she said.

“The Green Belt is what characterises Ponteland and a development such as this will destroy the character and charm of Ponteland forever.

“There is no need for any new housing development of this size. Most residents consider Ponteland to be a village and not a town.

“Banks, at the exhibition, compared Ponteland with some towns and then said there is a lack of similar town facilities in Ponteland – a ridiculous comparison.

“It also said that it will improve the Leisure Centre if these proposals were to go ahead, what it does not say is that the cost of these improvements will be the destruction of the Green Belt and the village itself. The residents of Ponteland have too much integrity to be swayed by these inducements.”

Sue Smith, a resident of Ridgley Drive for more than 17 years, added: “When I look around over the fields and surrounding countryside, I find it heartbreaking to think that someone wants to destroy this.”

Other concerns raised at the event included an increase in traffic problems at peak times, particularly on the A696, and making flooding more likely in that part of Ponteland.

The exhibition marked the beginning of an on-going public engagement process to enable residents to voice their opinions, with the feedback received being used to help shape the final proposals for the scheme.

The company is considering a number of areas where it could make contributions to improvements if the project was approved by Northumberland County Council’s west area planning committee – including the road network, the Memorial Hall, Ponteland Library and new facilities for some of the area’s sporting clubs.

The authority’s recent Employment Land Review identified Ponteland as having a need for new commercial development, and it is claimed the proposals could help meet this need by providing land and accommodation for employment use which will create new opportunities for local people and businesses.

Banks Property also pledged that around one-third of the site would be maintained as landscaped public open space.

Environment and Community Director Mark Dowdall said: “There is a real need for more housing to be made available in Ponteland to help people move to or stay in the town, and this is something that was appreciated by many of those attending our event. Meeting this need is a stated strategic aim towards which the county council is working, and one which we believe would be best addressed by the plans we’re putting forward.

“We firmly believe that everyone has a right to the opportunity to live in the place that they wish to be, and our aim now is to establish a meaningful dialogue with every part of the community around how this goal can best be achieved in Ponteland, where there isn’t enough available space to meet its housing needs by re-developing brownfield sites alone.”

Anyone who was unable to attend the exhibition, but would like more information on the proposals, can contact the Banks community relations team by calling 0191 3786100 or emailing ponteland@banksgroup.co.uk