BY ANDREW COULSON - WITH PIC

0
Have your say

PONTELAND residents and councillors made it loud and clear to a development company that the area must not be overrun with housing.

A ‘planning ideas’ day hosted by Lugano Group at the Memorial Hall last Thursday attracted more than 400 people to the all-day event.

Discussions and workshops brought forward a number of ideas and concerns about Ponteland and Darras Hall.

One of the main fears expressed was that roads and services would suffer if a large number of properties are built.

One of the councillors who attended the event has criticised the company for not giving a full picture of its plans.

Lugano is examining the potential of about 2,500 acres of land which it owns on the nearby Dissington Estate and it is also acting on behalf of some other landowners on the edge of the town.

It claims it is taking a long-term approach to the area’s development and schemes will be influenced by the views of residents.

But there are concerns that Lugano and its partners will eventually come forward with planning applications for large-scale housing projects, adding to others already approved or in the pipeline.

All four county councillors for Ponteland went along, including Ponteland South member Peter Jackson, leader of the Conservative group.

“I believe it was a whitewash exercise because no information was given by Lugano about what it is planning to do at Dissington, or who they were representing,” he said.

“From what I understand, it is looking at up to 2,000 new homes in the long term and this would have a massive impact on the area. The infrastructure of Ponteland simply couldn’t cope.

“Another issue is that greenbelt land could be lost.”

Other key issues included dealing with local flooding, roads and transport, the village centre, wildlife and the environment, the need for more affordable homes, congestion from school traffic and strengthening the infrastructure in and around Ponteland.

Among the residents who attended was Ponteland Civic Society Chairman Philip Ham.

He said: “We wish to see a balanced, integrated and sustainable development of the village in the future, without any preponderance of one kind of development.

“In particular, we do not wish to see an over-development, for example, of restaurants, care homes or housing in a particular price range, especially at the upper end of the market.”

Lugano Director Richard Robson said any claims about housing numbers were incorrect because there are no specific schemes at the moment.

He added: “This was our first community event in Ponteland and we’ll ensure that the useful information and opinions that were offered by people who know Ponteland well is integrated as we put together first-stage plans.

“We’re delighted that the day attracted and engaged hundreds of people who feel passionately about the place they live in. People gave up hours of their time to take part in workshops and discussions, many of them participating in more than one session and contributing valuable ideas that we will take forward.”

Throughout the day, officials explained that Lugano has nothing to do with the Banks Property scheme for new housing either side of Rotary Way.

Northumbria Police has outline permission for 150 homes on part of its headquarters site in Ponteland, although the force has yet to say when it hopes to start building the properties.