Pickles to determine new homes proposal

A Government minister will have the final say on controversial plans for a new housing estate on green-belt land in Ponteland.

In April, Lugano Group decided to appeal the decision by Northumberland County Council’s west area planning committee to turn down its outline bid for up to 280 homes and other facilities on a site at Birney Hill.

A hearing is set to take place later this year.

At a recent meeting of Ponteland Town Council, planning committee chair Liz Thompson informed members that the inspector at the appeal hearing will send their report to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Secretary of State for the department, Eric Pickles, will then decide either to uphold or reject the appeal.

The town council is among the organisations and groups that have objected to the proposal.

Its submission to the Planning Inspectorate includes the following: “The applicant acknowledges that the proposals will result in essential harm and the council believes its stated “very special reasons” for development in the green-belt have not been established.

“This location is remote from shops, schools and medical facilities and it is tenuous to argue that this development will improve the environment. The reduction of surface flooding and farm re-modelling does not require development in order to be implemented.

“There is no evidence of a housing demand or crisis in Ponteland as ample provision is already available or has planning permission and is awaiting construction.”