No-shows at design event is explained

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Councillors and community groups in Ponteland have revealed the reasons why they did not attend a public event for the controversial Garden Village scheme.

The first of the Enquiry by Design (EbD) sessions relating to the proposed development on the Dissington Estate took place earlier this month. The process is being run by the Prince’s Foundation.

However, Ponteland Town Council, the four Ponteland county councillors, Ponteland Civic Society, Ponteland Green Belt Group and Ponteland Community Partnership all refused to attend and informed the charity that they ‘cannot support this proposal in any way’.

Ben Bolgar, senior director at the Prince’s Foundation, said it appeared they had “misunderstood the process and incorrectly thought that by attending the design workshops they would be seen to be supporting a planning application, which is not the case”.

In response to this, a statement has been issued on behalf of Ponteland Green Belt Group, Ponteland Community Partnership, Ponteland Civic Society and Coun Peter Jackson.

It says: ‘Basic to the whole situation is that this development would be on green belt land. In all the multifarious discussions and Core Strategy consultations which have been held, the question of releasing land on this particular site has never before been even mentioned.

‘The final version of the Core Strategy has still not been brought forward for comment and may be months away.

‘Any meaningful discussion on the design of the development proposed for this site would require us to tacitly approve of the deletion of green belt land for that purpose. This is surely putting the cart before the horse.’