Town revamp scheme is ‘too slow’

ANOTHER call has been made for Ponteland’s £20million regeneration scheme to be progressed without further delay.

Ponteland Community Partnership (PCP) has written to Northumberland County Council to express its concerns about the hold-up in the project.

The organisation became involved in the process in 2007 after a previous regeneration masterplan by Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners was opposed by a large majority of residents.

It produced a design brief which, after public consultation in August 2007, received community approval the following February.

Two schemes working to the document were presented in February 2009 and, after its proposal was the most popular among local residents, investment property firm MKP Ponteland became the county council’s preferred developer.

The first project meeting, at which representatives of the community group and Ponteland Town Council were present, took place in September of that year.

But the process has stalled and in the letter to the unitary authority’s leader Jeff Reid, PCP Chairman Brian Prickett asks him to say why it has taken so long.

He says: “Over two years have passed (since the first project meeting) and we are still waiting to see any significant progress.

“There have been changes in personnel at NCC and many unanswered questions.

“The 12-month exclusivity agreement with the preferred developer has overrun by some nine months and the development agreement has yet to be agreed and approved by the NCC Executive.

“Apparently, there are many details to be settled about how a new library and One Stop Shop facility could be incorporated in the proposed community hub in the new development.”

The town council is the other organisation to write to the county council about the situation in recent weeks.

The final chance for the Executive to make a decision before the end of the year is its meeting on December 19.