Bid for schools and leisure in Pont submitted

An artist's impression of the proposed new Ponteland schools and leisure complex.
An artist's impression of the proposed new Ponteland schools and leisure complex.

A detailed planning application for the provision of state-of-the-art schools and leisure facilities in Ponteland has now been submitted.

Although the initial planning proposal was withdrawn in the summer, Northumberland County Council announced that this would be replaced by a new bid with a new design.

It is now available on the local authority’s public access website – reference 17/03729/CCD.

If the application gets the green light, the existing leisure centre to the north of the site will be demolished and a complex incorporating a new leisure centre, secondary school and primary school will be built.

It will also include car-parking facilities, access works and landscaping.

This ties in with the change to a two-tier system for most of Ponteland’s schools, which came into effect in September.

The planning statement on behalf of the council includes the following: ‘The proposal would incorporate the combined footprints of the existing leisure centre and Ponteland High School sites.

‘Viewed in isolation with regard to the leisure centre it would be materially larger in size, but when viewed in tandem with the high school, another building within the green-belt to the south, it should be considered the combined net impact on openness would be, overall, neutral.

‘The application site hosts a large expanse of sport and recreation grounds, which are protected and required to be either enhanced or alternatively provided if developed upon, although largely this would be protected by the objectives of Sport England.

‘The proposal will develop this site, but will safeguard this designation on the whole for sports and recreation to enhance the existing facilities.

‘With consideration toward the wider landscape impacts of the proposal, the concept of the proposal has been developed for both the schools and leisure centre as a whole site approach.

‘The wooded public right of way would be retained, particularly as it was noted to be of community value and to sit well within the vision for the site.

It also says that the site is in a sustainable location with access to a range of public transport and pedestrian footpaths.

Ponteland High School will extend its age range to 11 to 18 as of September 2019, when the school will receive its first cohort of year 7 and 8 pupils.

Coun Wayne Daley, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council and cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We considered issues raised by the local community and have reviewed and revised the previous plans based on their feedback.

“This move to submit a full planning application will allow us to progress quickly and get fantastic new education and leisure facilities constructed and up and running in the shortest possible timescale.

“We will be working with all schools, parents and the local community to make sure that any disruption for students and families is kept to an absolute minimum.”

The application is expected to go before the strategic planning committee by January.