Development plans spark united response

MOVES are under way to form a united community response against housing plans for the Green Belt around Ponteland.

An open consultation event organised by the Ponteland Community Partnership (PCP) took place in the Memorial Hall on Tuesday and residents who attended stressed the importance of keeping the land intact.

There are major concerns about the cumulative impact of potential new development on the edge of the area, with Banks Property and Lugano Group looking to bring forward new schemes.

And there are fears over the gap between Ponteland and Newcastle, with a range of sites being examined by Newcastle City Council.

Many people are bracing themselves for planning applications before Northumberland County Council adopts its Local Development Framework as more weight will be given to national policies in the meantime.

As a result, a new development group affiliated to the PCP and involving members of other local organisations has been established and will hold its first meeting in the coming week.

Chairman Alma Dunigan said: “There was a unanimous voice from the community that the Green Belt should be kept intact.

“If all these housing projects get the go-ahead, it would be pure urban sprawl from the Tyne Bridge right up to the edge of Ponteland.

“The idea of a Green Belt is not only as a kind of buffer between settlements, but is also there specifically as a sponge which collects water and takes it to the water table. If it gets concreted over, where does the water go?

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“From the companies’ point of view, you can understand that it’s easier for them to develop Green Belt sites because they don’t need to spend money to prepare them so we will look to see if there are some imaginative ways of using the brownfield sites in Ponteland.

“In an ideal world, we would like to have a round-the-table meeting with the developers for sites in and around Ponteland to find out if there is any way forward which we could agree on.”

The group will be divided into two, although they will interlink. One will examine how the community should respond to future planning applications for Green Belt sites and the other will have an active involvement with the town council’s neighbourhood plan, which will deal with future development priorities for the area.

For more information about its remit and getting involved, visit www.pontelandpcp.co.uk