Changes made to Arch’s plans for library site

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Plans for new apartments on the former Ponteland Library site have been modified to take into account comments from residents.

A public exhibition took place in October and 107 people completed the feedback form.

There was a particularly strong turnout from a number of people who live in the nearby Henderson Court assisted living development.

They raised concerns about the height of the proposed development, its proximity to Henderson Court, the pedestrian access to Henderson Court along the western boundary of the site, which is used extensively by residents, and the number of apartments proposed.

The original plans by Ascent Homes, the house-building arm of Arch Group, featured 34 two-bedroom apartments for open market sale to be built in two four-storey blocks, with associated parking.

The revised scheme submitted for approval by MWE Architects consists of 27 apartments – four one-bed and 23 two-bed – built over three storeys, with associated parking.

As a result, the overall height of the apartment blocks has been reduced by just under two metres and this means that they will be lower at their ridge height than Henderson Court.

Officials at Ascent Homes have increased the distance to Henderson Court of apartment block A at the north west corner by an extra five metres, while at the south west corner, the site boundary of block B to Thornhill Road has been increased from 5.6m to 6.8m.

In addition, residents have been assured that the pedestrian access into Henderson Court will be retained along with a new footpath, so that they still have a direct route through the site to Merton Way shopping centre.

Duncan Bowman, developments director for Ascent Homes, said: “A large number of local people raised their concerns about our proposals and we were happy to meet with them to discuss whether we might be able to make some changes that would not substantially affect our overall concept, but would help to alleviate their concerns.

“As a result, the residents have welcomed the design modifications we have made and appreciate that we have listened to them and taken on board their comments.”

Ponteland Town Council’s letter to Arch about the plans included a concern about the initial proposed height of the blocks and stating its support for a suggestion to use the ground floor of one of the units as a library facility.

The detailed application is likely to go to committee in February 2017 and if planning approval is granted, it is likely that construction will begin in March 2017.

The proposal also includes the introduction of new trees fronting the Thornhill Road elevation of the site to provide ‘high-quality amenity space’.