Developer submits housing appeal

Plans for a new housing estate on green-belt land in Ponteland are still on the table.

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

The councillors determined that it would be inappropriate development in the green belt and the special circumstances cited by the applicant were insufficient to justify building the homes.

They ruled that it would cause demonstrable harm to the landscape character of the open countryside and Lugano had failed to adequately demonstrate that surface water from the development could be disposed of in a manner which would not increase flood risk elsewhere.

The other reasons given were insufficient information in regard to the likely impact of aircraft noise on the amenity of potential future residents in that area and the archaeological potential of the site, and the impact on designated heritage assets such as Birney Hall and a long-standing windmill.

Opposition has been led by the Ponteland Greenbelt Group, which was set up to oppose all applications in the designated area, and a total of 4,310 objections were submitted. There were 487 letters supporting the scheme.

After the planning meeting, Lugano described the decision as ‘flawed in many respects’, but the county council said it was based on both technical issues and fundamental planning principles which ‘provided a sound basis on which to refuse the application’.

The company had until today to lodge an appeal and planning director Scott Munro this week confirmed that it had been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

He added: “The evidence in the appeal will address the reasons for refusal given by the county council’s west area planning committee.

“It will also run parallel to the authority’s emerging core strategy.”

The site would be run by a community land trust, described by Lugano as a non-profit corporation that would remove the cost of land ownership from the buying process.