Network aims to have its say

A NEW business group in Ponteland is aiming to play its part in a project where local residents can set out their priorities for the future.

And it hopes that all those involved in the neighbourhood plan process can work together and deliver something which meets the needs and aspirations of everyone in the community.

The Ponteland Business Network (PBN), a sub-group of the Northumberland Business Network, was established earlier this year and a number of local entrepreneurs agreed to go onto its steering group to develop a comprehensive vision document for the area.

In a bid to co-ordinate the efforts of all parties within Ponteland into a cohesive effort, the chairman and project manager of the Ponteland Neighbourhood Planning Group (NPG) have been invited to attend the next meeting of the PBN steering group, which takes place today.

The aim is to try to agree the amount of expertise within the business community that should be involved in other NPG sub-groups – such as transportation, education and learning, leisure, open spaces and youth facilities – as well as the one for retail, business and employment.The most contentious may be housing.

Thousands of residents objected to Lugano Group’s bid for up to 280 new homes in Birney Hill as it is on green belt land, among other reasons, but PBN chiefs have said there are elements to the application that should not be dismissed because they could benefit the area, for example its community trust proposal.

Northumberland Business Network chairman Charles Sellers, who has been involved in the development of the PBN, said: “Much speculation has circulated over the last few months about the business network and the Ponteland NPG, however the perception has been far from reality. It is clear that all groups within Ponteland are working towards the common good of the area and with the PBN focusing on the business issues and needs of the community, it feels it could play an influential part in making a difference to Ponteland.

“In creating an open and frank discussion environment from the outset within the network, not only do members seek to contribute to a local plan that is deliverable, but they also seek a means to bring investment into the area.”

Local neighbourhood plans need to conform with Northumberland County Council’s developing Core Strategy, which has to be based on up-to-date and relevant information about the county’s economic, social and environmental requirements.