Fight goes on to halt village bistro plan

A GROUP of Ponteland residents will soon be resuming their fight against plans for a new bar and bistro just yards from their homes.

An appeal has been lodged with the Planning Inspectorate after the application from Newco (Ponteland) Director Jonathan Stokes was refused by Northumberland County Council’s West Area Planning Committee last month.

The majority of members ruled that not enough effort had been made to advertise the Bell Villas premises, formerly a Co-op store and Wine Rack off-licence, as a retail outlet. The same reason was used to reject the first bid for a two-storey bar and restaurant in February 2011.

Last July, Planning Inspector Ian Jenkins agreed with the committee and turned down an appeal.

The applicant’s fourth attempt to gain approval did not come as a surprise to Ryehaugh resident Jennifer Hardy.

“We have been fighting these plans since October 2010, so we’re not going to give up now,” she said.

“Once again we will be writing to the Planning Inspectorate to outline our case.

“The fresh application to the West Area Planning Committee was only two months after the inspector’s decision and only two newspaper adverts had been placed in that time so hopefully whoever determines this appeal will rule that the company has still not done enough to market the premises for retail use.”

Other concerns from residents include noise disturbance, odours and nuisance from ‘inadequate’ parking facilities.

Mark Brooker, senior planner at Mr Stokes’ Tyneside-based agents Storeys Edward Symmons, confirmed that a second appeal has been submitted.

He said: “We felt that the attempt to market the premises was enough to demonstrate that there was no interest in the site from retail businesses or entrepreneurs.

“It has been on the market for a number of months now and so it was a little frustrating when the application was rejected by the committee.

“The appeal is unlikely to be determined until June and in the meantime we will continue to market the property.”