Housing shortfall ‘addressed’

A scheme to build a new residential estate on green belt land in Ponteland will help to address a long-term housing shortfall in the area, a public inquiry has heard.

Lugano Group is appealing a Northumberland County Council decision to turn down an outline proposal for up to 280 homes and other facilities at Birney Hill.

And the during the housing supply section of its case, the company revealed that it is hoping to start work at the site during the second half of next year if Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, rules in its favour.

As well as the provision of community benefits, which it believes constitute very special circumstances, planning director Scott Munro stated that it was important to make up for consistently poor housing delivery in both Ponteland and Northumberland.

“There has been a persistent under-supply of residential properties in the county over the last 15 years,” he added.

He said the development would provide much-needed high-quality large housing for people who would help generate economic growth in the region, described as ‘movers and shakers’, and make a key contribution to affordable housing.

It is proposed that 30 per cent of the properties on site will meet the affordable housing criteria and Lugano would make a financial contribution to affordable properties off-site.

When asked by planning inspector John Gray what would happen if permission was granted by the end of June, Mr Munro said that the firm would seek to have reserved matters approval in the spring or early summer of 2016.

Allowing time for a potential challenge and dealing with some of the conditions, its aim would be for on-site work to begin in autumn 2016.

A flood expert has also responded on Lugano’s behalf to the concerns raised by Hadrian Court resident Hank Craggs. He believes the proposed development would increase the likelihood of his (and other residents’) home being flooded.

Chris Cozens, an associate director at WSP Group, said: “The development proposals will include a new surface water drainage system designed and installed in accordance with current best practice and guidance on sustainable development.

“This system would include attenuation storage to temporarily store on-site surface water run-off from storm events whilst restricting run-off to less than greenfield run-off rates.

“The restriction to lower than greenfield run-off rate will reduce significantly run-off from the site and reduce the existing risk of flooding to properties in Darras Hall generally, and specifically Hadrian Court.

“Additionally, the proposals include a surface water cut-off drain south of the northern development boundary that would collect any residual surface water run-off and help alleviate the existing flooding issues.”