Firm withdraws major application for housing in Ponteland

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

A public inquiry will no longer take place after a major Ponteland housing application was withdrawn.

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, it was called-in by the Government and a public inquiry was arranged.

Now the company has announced that the application has been withdrawn.

Justin Hancock, principal development planner at Banks Property, said: “Throughout this process, we worked closely with Northumberland County Council’s planning officers on all aspects of the project, and especially on securing a significant contribution that the scheme would make towards enhancing the educational facilities available to families in and around Ponteland.

“But the county council’s newly-reached opinion that no private sector funding is required has undermined the current case for development at West Clickemin Farm.

“And the public inquiry predicated by the political decision by the Secretary of State to call-in the local planning ruling would place considerable extra demands on the public purse.

“It is highly regrettable that, after so many years’ work, we therefore find ourselves having to withdraw these carefully-planned and sensible-sited proposals, but with the council’s change of stance and its decision to return the planning application to committee, we have been left with no viable option but to do so.

“We remain grateful to those who have supported and contributed to the development of our West Clickemin Farm proposals and firmly believe that this is the most logical location for the type of residential development we were proposing in the area, especially once the neighbouring school and leisure facilities are in place.”

Ponteland Green Belt Group chairman Tony Noble said: “We are very pleased with this announcement because we have stated from day one that the very special circumstances required to release green belt for inappropriate development had not been met.

“The previous administration of Northumberland County Council had proposed grossly overambitious housing numbers within the Core Strategy document.

“The draft Core Strategy was fundamentally flawed. We have always believed that the Core Strategy would never have been approved by the independent planning inspector.

“Following the current administration’s decision to withdraw that core strategy, the tenuous very special circumstances put forward by Banks to justify building on the green belt were now non-existent.

“Following the decision of the Secretary of State to call-in the application and appoint an independent planning inspector to examine the application, we believe Banks have realised they had no real case to put before the inquiry.

“Their decision to withdraw the application is welcomed, but does not come as any real surprise.”