Concerns raised over major plans for Pont

Ponteland Library
Ponteland Library

Controversial development and relocation plans for Ponteland have been criticised by a local organisation.

The core strategy decisions that have been made by those in charge at Northumberland County Council include identifying Ponteland as a ‘main town’ rather than its previous ‘service centre’ designation.

Among the specific proposals for the area is a major project to provide new buildings for Ponteland High School, Ponteland Middle School and Darras Hall First School on a shared site.

Along with public leisure facilities, the super campus would be situated on land to the east of the existing Pont High and Middle schools. The buildings currently in place would be demolished and new homes would be built on the site.

Last month, in a separate announcement, the authority revealed that the library off Thornhill Road will be closed and work will be carried out to make library services available at Ponteland Leisure Centre, which is located off Callerton Lane.

This is set to take place in the spring.

The Ponteland Greenbelt Group and an action group of parents of Darras Hall First School pupils, among other residents, have stated their opposition to the plans and raised concerns.

And Ponteland Civic Society has now formally responded to the county council with its objections.

Its summary of the response includes the following: ‘The society and a significant number of respondents from the community have consistently objected to the release of green-belt in this area, which would bring Ponteland and Newcastle closer together in contradiction to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework.

‘Other town centre issues such as the Merton Way re-development and the need to retain a library and community hub here are being ignored.

‘The existing leisure centre car park provides additional parking for the town centre and we are strongly of the view that the present positions of the middle and high schools and the leisure centre are ideally placed on the existing sites.

‘The access to the proposed re-located facilities will increase travel distances and result in a concentration of traffic at the Dobbies roundabout involving those accessing any or all of the facilities and through traffic on the A696.

‘Nowhere in the site vision statement (or any other section of the document) does it explain why it has been considered necessary to re-locate the schools and leisure centre, or what other alternatives have been considered.

‘The development plan is not a high quality or sustainable design in that it will remove essential community facilities further away from the town centre to the detriment of their accessibility, as well as the essential character of Ponteland.’

In addition, concerns have been raised about landscaping proposals for the area.

The society says: ‘The great majority of the land surrounding Ponteland is actively farmed (rather than being turned into ‘pony paddocks’, for example) so that the landscape has a distinctly rural character.

‘This character will be destroyed by the introduction of ‘structural’ landscaping.’