Green belt plans submitted at last

CONTROVERSIAL plans for up to 280 new homes in Ponteland are set to be made official next week.

A spokeswoman for Lugano Group has confirmed that it has submitted an application for the Birney Hill site, located south west of the Darras Hall estate, to Northumberland County Council.

The authority is expected to validate it in the next few days. Hundreds of residents are set to object after criticising the proposal at exhibitions which were held in the area in early September and late October.

And Hexham MP Guy Opperman, whose constituency covers Ponteland, is also against the bid as it is on green-belt land.

He is backing the efforts of the Ponteland Green Belt Group in fighting the plans, which he claims have been made harder by the county council’s decision to delay a review into the green-belt boundaries in Ponteland until after the elections on May 2.

“It is unsurprising that developers are putting in applications for green-belt land during this window,” Mr Opperman added.

“We have an extremely well-organised group of people prepared to fight this in Ponteland but they need local people to get behind them.

“The action group will be contacting residents in the next few weeks and I urge people to get involved.

“We are now seeing the threat to our green belt become a reality. We will fight to protect it.”

As well as distinctive low-density large houses and some self-build plots, there would be a number of affordable homes with no hidden service charges as part of the scheme. The site would also include play areas and a hub with a farm shop and small business centre.

Lugano Group says the location will not greatly add to the congestion along the A696 because drivers going to Newcastle will not need to go on the road and the development would not increase the risk of flooding in the area.

It argues that there is not enough brownfield land to accommodate the demands of Northumberland County Council so some new homes will have to be built in the green belt.

But the Ponteland Green Belt Group claims that the housing requirements in Ponteland can be met by already-approved applications such as the Northumbria Police headquarters site and other brownfield plots.

Their other concerns include the extra traffic in the village that would result from an influx of families, as many would need to use Callerton Lane and the A696 in the morning and afternoon to take their children to and pick them up from school.