Developers welcome views of residents

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DEVELOPERS behind a potential new housing estate in Ponteland have welcomed the feedback received from residents.

Lugano Group’s exhibitions at Ponteland Memorial Hall and Leisure Centre, which included initial options for a scheme at Birney Hill, south west of the Darras Hall estate, attracted 475 visitors.

The events also set out Lugano’s 10 principles and its vision for the future of Ponteland in a range of areas.

The company owns about 2,500 acres of land on the nearby Dissington Estate and is also acting on behalf of some other landowners on the edge of the area.

Its team of specialists discussed flooding and drainage issues, transport improvements, community facilities, the village centre, housing design and provision and improving the local economy as well as why the Birney Hill site for 200 to 300 homes was chosen.

Lugano says that all three options for development create new wildlife corridors as habitats for protected species, retain trees and hedgerows and protect key views and landscapes.

Those attending the exhibitions were asked to choose their preferred scheme, although many residents wrote that there should be no development on Green Belt land.

Scott Munro, Lugano planning director, said: “From the feedback we received, one option proved to be more popular than the others.

“The third option, which offers the smallest groups of houses and four green corridors, was considered preferable by more visitors than the other two.

“We’re delighted that hundreds of local people gave up their time to have a good look round the display and talk through aspects of it with us.

“We gave much more detail in this exhibition because local people said they wanted more information and we’re looking carefully at each separate aspect of living and working at Ponteland – from wildlife to jobs for local people.

“The exhibitions were very useful and we will be preparing a third event in six to eight weeks to firm up the proposals we showed for the first time at these exhibitions.”

Groups of residents have come together to oppose any future bids for Green Belt land.

They believe new housing requirements in Ponteland can be met by already approved applications such as the Northumbria Police headquarters site and brownfield plots are also available.

Lugano argues that there is not enough brownfield land to accommodate the demands of Northumberland County Council, so some of the new homes in the area will have to be built in the Green Belt.

Meanwhile, Ponteland Town Council has clarified its position after being asked by members of the public to give its view on the potential developments for the edge of the village and Darras Hall.

Mayor Peter Cowey said the authority can only respond once a planning application has been submitted, although he added that it has been very active in making comments to Northumberland County Council’s west area planning committee.

Coun Carl Rawlings added: “We can also say that claims about a lack of development or applications in Ponteland in recent months are wrong.

“I counted requests for 81 new dwellings that our planning committee has looked at in their last three meetings alone.”