A public inquiry will take place in relation to a major Ponteland housing application after the plans were called-in.
There were hundreds of objections to Banks Property’s proposal for 400 homes on a 21-hectare site to the west of the A696 and north of the B6545, which includes green belt land.
Despite this, Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee said it was ‘minded to approve’ the bid in March last year.
However, the scale of the development meant it was referred to the National Planning Casework Unit.
And it has been confirmed this week that the then Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid (now Home Secretary) called-in the application days before his new appointment.
In response, principal development planner at Banks Property Justin Hancock said: “It is very disappointing that, once again, a locally-made decision reached in adherence with the detailed process laid down in the National Planning Policy Framework is being unnecessarily taken out of local hands – a situation that does not tally with the principles of localism on which the UK’s planning regime is based.
“There are also significant linkages between our scheme and the school and leisure centre project, which has not been called in by the Secretary of State – including a financial contribution of £5.5million.
“The political decision to call-in the housing is silent on how the funding gap will be resolved.
“In addition, the new pupils that would live in the houses were part of the need and justification for the school building project.
“The West Clickemin Farm site has long been recognised as appropriate for development of the type we are proposing, and our proposals for it have been 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.”
A public inquiry will now be held at a date and venue to be confirmed.
Ponteland Green Belt Group chairman Tony Noble said: “We welcome this decision as it is what we had asked for following the county council planning meeting last year.
“We will work with other groups in Ponteland to ensure that we are fully represented at the inquiry and we look forward to presenting our case to the independent planning inspector.”