The applicants for each of the major Ponteland applications that were discussed at County Hall yesterday have welcomed county approval.
The outline proposals include a Dissington Garden Village on land north and west of Darras Hall that would see up to 2,000 dwellings being built and space/facilities for employment, commercial, agricultural and leisure uses and 400 properties on land west of Cheviot View.
A bid for a new leisure centre, library and primary and secondary school on the current leisure centre site and green belt land next to it was also approved.
Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee approved all three by a majority vote.
For all three proposals, the committee is minded to approve them as they will now be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit, which will either confirm the council’s decisions or pass them to Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to make a decision.
The proposed garden village by Lugano Dissington Estate Limited has been the subject of an ‘expression of interest’ to central Government, supported by the local authority.
Chairman Richard Robson said: “We’re very pleased with Northumberland County Council’s decision to support our plans for Dissington Garden Village.
“This will be a nationally-significant development, the first of its kind in the North of England, and will provide high-quality new housing in a beautifully-designed village setting.
“This new community will offer an exceptional place to live, work and bring up a family whilst providing a very significant boost to the regional economy.
“Our proposals will also help to significantly reduce the risk of flooding in the area, ease traffic congestion in Ponteland town centre and ensure that the surrounding green belt is preserved, maintained and protected from future development.
“Our development team will now continue to work with the council on next steps and we will keep the local community updated as the project progresses.”
The housing scheme by Banks Property is set to make financial contributions to construction of the new schools and leisure centre, affordable housing in the area, town centre junctions on the A696 and improvements to the drainage system.
Michael Shuttleworth, managing director at Banks Property, said: “Having had a recommendation for approval for our West Clickemin Farm proposals from Northumberland County Council’s planning officers, we are very pleased that the members of the council’s strategic planning committee have been minded to agree with them.
“This is a site which has long been recognised as appropriate for development of the type we were proposing, and our proposals for it were carefully developed over a number of years to allow for a substantial amount of information about the site and the wider local area to be carefully factored into them.
“We’re very grateful to all those who took part in the extensive local consultation work we undertook around this project, particularly those who gave their backing to our plans, and we are especially pleased that this project will allow us to contribute towards improving the educational and leisure facilities that are available to people living in and around Ponteland.
“There is a clear and increasingly pressing need right across North East England to increase the available supply of quality homes, a need which the West Clickemin Farm scheme will help to address, and while the planning committee’s decision is now likely to be reviewed by the Secretary of State, we believe there is a strong case for him to allow it to stand.”
Welcoming the strategic planning committee’s decisions, council leader Grant Davey believes they would have long-term benefits for the Ponteland area, and the county as a whole.
He said: “The investment in schools and leisure is part of a wider re-organisation of schools in the Ponteland Partnership – with an application also being considered for a new Darras Hall Primary School and further proposed investment to extend the age ranges of other first schools in the partnership.
“We want every child in Northumberland to have the best possible educational opportunities in the best possible learning environments, and this investment in schools in this partnership will do just that.
“This scheme would see state of the art facilities developed and new buildings constructed for a Ponteland Secondary School and Ponteland Primary school on a shared site, along with community leisure facilities.
“The garden village would significantly benefit the county, provide a much-needed economic boost to the region and deliver hundreds of affordable homes.”
“We fully understand people’s concerns about the green belt, but we must stress that through the core strategy we are protecting more than 99 per cent of green belt in Northumberland and only suggesting that it should be used in exceptional circumstances such as these.
“As a council, we are committed to ensuring a vibrant and viable county for the future – bringing thousands of new jobs – and with them the need for new houses of all types, and local services to support our residents.
“The North East England Chamber of Commerce believes high quality housing is a vital element in ensuring the region’s businesses are able to attract and retain the skilled workforces they need to succeed.
“Its members have called for more houses of all sizes to be built the region, as a mix of housing is needed to support local facilities and promote the region to those just embarking on their careers, as well as those who are more established.
“The Government is encouraging councils to think differently in these difficult economic times and future generations of local families will have access to good quality housing, schools and leisure facilities if these decisions are confirmed.”