Work can now start on construction of the new major schools and leisure centre at Ponteland, after confirmation from the Government that it will not be calling in the planning decision.
Northumberland County Council can go ahead and issue permission for the development, after its strategic planning committee agreed that it was ‘minded to approve’ the scheme in January.
It was then referred to the National Planning Casework Unit for determination from the Secretary of State on whether he wanted to call-in the application and the local authority was informed yesterday that it will not be called in.
The multi-million pound project will see new state-of-the-art primary and secondary schools being built, alongside leisure and cultural facilities, off Callerton Lane.
However, the response from the Government took longer than the usual timeframe and this is likely to have an impact on the completion of building work and result in the need for temporary accommodation for the schools.
The council says it will ‘continue to work hard to minimise the impact on students’.
Coun Wayne Daley, deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This is brilliant news and means that work can now start in earnest on building these fantastic new facilities in Ponteland.
“Ensuring there are top quality learning environments for our young people is key to us, and this exciting development will provide modern facilities for students for years into the future.
“Link this with the leisure and cultural facilities that will be enjoyed by both students and by the wider population and we can look forward to seeing a first class community hub in Ponteland.”
The council and its contractors are now working to confirm details of the programme for construction of the new buildings.
Kieran McGrane, headteacher at Ponteland High School, said: “We benefit from working with wonderful students, committed and talented staff, and supportive parents.
“The news today that this work will, in the future, continue in state-of-the-art buildings is very welcome indeed.
“We are very grateful to Northumberland County councillors and officers for all of their hard work in ensuring that we have made it to his point as their efforts will have a positive impact on thousands of young people in the years ahead.”
Lynn Blain, headteacher at Ponteland Primary School said: “This is fantastic news for the whole community – both now and in the future.
“We are grateful to Northumberland County Council for investing in our schools and services in Ponteland and securing high quality learning environments that have the potential to shift possibilities, raise aspiration and reflect our community’s deep commitment to learning and the pursuit of excellence.”
A drop-in event has been arranged for parents on Wednesday at Ponteland Leisure Centre.
There will be two sessions – the first is from 9am to 10.30am and the second is between 2.30pm and 4.30pm.
The project team will be happy to answer questions or discuss concerns.