THE proposal by Channel Islands developer Lugano to build 280 houses on virgin green belt land near Ponteland faces very strong opposition.
In order to get ‘buy-in’ from the local community Lugano support their large-scale development proposal with the promise of 900 job opportunities.
The figures provided by Lugano are underpinned with the provision of 672 jobs during the construction phase of the Birney Hill development, ‘In a good market – sales would reach 30-40 dwelling units per annum’ good market conditions would give us a development period of between seven and nearly 10 years.
It would seem to be more realistic that we are looking at 67 construction jobs for each year of development as opposed to 672 total construction jobs over the life of the development phase.
It would appear that within the ‘job opportunity promise’ Lugano have included a 16 per cent allowance for potential residents who will choose to work from home (144 out of 900 jobs). They omit to mention that there is currently a good supply of high quality homes available to purchase in Ponteland.
Those wishing to move into the area in order to work from home can, and will do so, without the need for the Birney Hill development.
The outline proposal includes establishing a Community Trust to manage commercial business space at Birney Hill, there is no indication of the type of business envisaged to enable a clear understanding that this has the potential to be a viable and sustainable proposition.
The Trust will also manage a Community Farm project, employing up to three staff; this fails to acknowledge the inevitable loss and destruction of existing agricultural businesses and jobs should the proposed development go ahead.
Unfortunately the prospects for a profitable community farm seem poor and have potential to be detrimental to the existing independent green grocers, butchers and the regular farmers market that are already established in Ponteland.
Whatever the number of jobs created, they will not be created only if Lugano’s scheme proceeds. Job opportunities are not increased just because the development is on Green Belt land (Brownfield and Greenfield sites are currently available that have been identified as suitable for development).
The construction of housing over and above the housing need is not justified; it would not represent sustainable development. The creation of construction jobs is not, and must never be, a justification for building on the Green Belt. Any housing development should be based on housing need and not developers’ greed.