Group wants public’s views on Pont plan

Ponteland residents can have their say on the future vision for their area at four consultation events.

A new neighbourhood plan is being prepared by a steering group of volunteers and councillors on behalf of the town council.

Objectives have been drawn up for the eight topic groups – conservation and heritage, drainage and flooding, housing and affordable housing, education and youth activities, natural environment, transportation, healthcare and care of the elderly and retail, business and employment – and people can comment on them and ask for others to be included.

They are based on the information from an initial survey in 2012 and a questionnaire last year and these details will be in a community consultation document that will be given to those attending the drop-in sessions at the Memorial Hall.

There will be A1 board displays, including map images, for each topic and large posters explaining the neighbourhood plan process.

Residents will be asked to write their comments on an A4 sheet and they can also put forward their views online.

Ponteland Mayor Carl Rawlings said: “There has been an enormous amount of work put into the neighbourhood plan so far by the steering group and sub-group members, all of whom have volunteered their time.

“They come from a variety of backgrounds and they are all focusing on what they think would benefit Ponteland.

“It will be very interesting and necessary for local people to put forward their views on the plan’s objectives.

“We will very much welcome good attendance and feedback at the drop-in sessions in the Memorial Hall.”

The issues covered in the objectives include the green-belt, traffic levels, leisure facilities and healthcare provision.

There will be further consultation with residents before the submission stage. The plan must include a map of the area, statement on how it meets a set of conditions and consultation statement.

An independent examiner will then recommend whether the plan should be put to a local referendum and if this person gives their approval, the poll will be organised by Northumberland County Council.

If more than 50 per cent of voters are in favour, it will be adopted and the plan would have the power to influence subsequent planning applications along with national and countywide policies.

Steering group member Alma Dunigan said: “At the drop-in sessions, residents will be asked if they want to join a neighbourhood plan supporters’ group, which we aim to start in January.

“This will get individuals involved in the process and we will be able to bounce ideas off them.”

Local organisations, community groups, the county council, church representatives, statutory organisations, developers and landowners have also been invited to the sessions. They will take place tomorrow (10am to 7pm), Saturday (9.30am to 1pm), Friday, September 26 (10am to 7pm), and Saturday, September 27 (9.30am to 1pm).

The information will also be available online from noon today at and residents can use this website to put forward their comments. The deadline for responses is Tuesday, September 30.