Major village plans ‘still on’ despite list omission

An aerial view of Dissington Estate. Picture by Trevor Walker.

An aerial view of Dissington Estate. Picture by Trevor Walker.

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The company behind plans to establish a new community in an area near Ponteland has insisted that its non-appearance on a Government list is not a setback.

Lugano Property Group has been working on the Dissington Garden Village proposal over a number of months.

It consists of 2,000 homes supported by education, leisure, medical, retail and employment facilities and the team submitted an expression of interest to the Government as it believes the project meets the required criteria.

The scheme has the support of the Labour administration at Northumberland County Council, but after it was not among the list of 14 garden villages announced earlier this week, Conservative group leader Coun Peter Jackson has urged the administration at County Hall to withdraw its support.

However, Lugano remains optimistic after a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said it had received a high number of applications to become garden villages and a second round of approvals could be made in 2017.

Chairman Richard Robson said: “We’re delighted to hear the Government’s announcement of the first tranche of garden village sites.

“It underlines its commitment to the new garden village movement as an integral part of planning policy addressing a serious housing need.

“We were not expecting Dissington to be included in this first announcement because we need to be a little further on in relation to the planning process, but we are engaged in a very positive dialogue with the DCLG and are confident that the Dissington Garden Village proposal will be included in a subsequent announcement.”

A planning application for the scheme on part of the Dissington Estate was submitted last month.

A total of 130 hectares of public open space and landscaping would be provided, with sports pitches, parkland, allotments and walking and cycle routes.

The new community would also have a primary school, medical centre, cafes, restaurants and shops and a modern transport service.

In addition, the development would result in a relief road being built to bypass Ponteland centre and 8,000sq m of flexible employment floor space.

Ponteland groups and councillors are set to oppose the application as they have previously expressed concerns about the impact of such a scheme.

Coun Jackson said: “Northumberland Conservatives were clear from the outset that the Dissington Garden Village scheme could not be justified and that it did not comply with the criteria that the Government has set out.

“In particular, the proposal would have an overwhelming impact on the infrastructure of Ponteland, it was obviously not a discreet and separate settlement and it has no local support in the community.

“Most important is the lack of evidence that there is any proven need for all of these extra houses.

“This Government rejection puts the absolute confusion at the heart of Northumberland’s planning policy in sharp focus.

“I now call upon Labour in Northumberland to re-think their planning assumptions for the much delayed core strategy structure plan.

“At the very least, they should now withdraw their support for this botched Dissington Garden Village scheme.”

Coun Allan Hepple, cabinet member for economic growth at Northumberland County Council, said: “While we are disappointed with the Government’s decision, an application has been submitted for a new garden village and it will be considered by the council’s strategic planning committee in due course.”