Green-belt plans go out for discussion

Protesters meeting at the Birney Hill site near Ponteland that is being proposed that the green belt land is built on.  Councillors doing a site visit with the planning officer. GM022703
Protesters meeting at the Birney Hill site near Ponteland that is being proposed that the green belt land is built on. Councillors doing a site visit with the planning officer. GM022703

CONSULTATION will begin next week on plans to re-shape Northumberland’s green belt.

Northumberland County Council has drawn up preferred options for housing, employment and green-belt policies for the Local Plan Core Strategy, the key planning document for the next 20 years.

The report suggests that more than 24,000 homes will have to be built in Northumberland by 2031 to enable economic growth, which could mean re-allocating green-belt land for housing.

Policy Board members have given the go-ahead for consultation to begin, saying no decisions have been made.

Board Member for Planning Allan Hepple said: “This plan is well evidenced and the information we have gathered shows that we need more affordable and good-quality homes for working families if we are to ensure that Northumberland is economically viable into the future.

“We have to have a population that will not only support existing and new jobs in the county, but also sustain and develop local services, businesses and local communities.”

However, Northumberland Conservative Group Leader Peter Jackson says that planning for a population growth of ten per cent is way beyond the 4.2 per cent identified in sub-national population projections, and consented outline development plans are not being considered.

“The Conservative group is looking for a moderate amount of growth in both the economy and population of Northumberland, but it has to be done in a much more planned and considered way,” he said.