Pont public ‘should discuss plans for schools shake-up’

Ponteland Community High School
Ponteland Community High School

A former Mayor of Ponteland has called for a fresh debate among residents over a potential new location for the area’s schools.

Northumberland County Council recently unveiled a blueprint for the future of its major settlements. It includes re-building first, middle and high schools and creating a new leisure centre on greenfield plots in Ponteland.

The proposals would be subject to the planning process and consultation will take place once further appraisals are carried out, but town councillor Peter Cowey believes that in the meantime, it would be helpful to give members of the public the opportunity to discuss the issue.

He supports having a new education campus in principle, but warned that allocating the existing sites for housing would be strongly opposed.

Coun Cowey was Mayor in summer 2012 when the town council produced a draft long-term local development plan that included moving some or all of Ponteland’s schools to sites at Rotary Way, as well as potential locations for a new relief road and business park.

It was withdrawn following a special meeting of the authority.

“At the time, Lugano Group was bringing forward its proposal for housing at Birney Hill and residents were concerned that if the new schools and relief road were allowed, Birney Hill would have to be approved,” said Coun Cowey.

“But now that a public inquiry has taken place for this scheme and the county council is proposing a shake-up for our schools, it is an appropriate time for the people of Ponteland to discuss their future.

“Not everyone was against the idea of a new site for them and personally I think it would be beneficial, particularly for the high school. It would enable an expansion of leisure facilities and the other vacated space could be used for public amenity and car parking, but residents have made it clear that new housing is not required in this area as other already approved sites will meet Ponteland’s future needs.”