Objections to council leader's bid for new egg unit at Northumberland farm

‘Considerable quantities of manure’ is among the concerns raised over plans for a new hen barn lodged by the leader of Northumberland County Council.

By Ben O'Connell
Wednesday, 27 February, 2019, 15:17
The proposed site of the egg unit, outlined in red. Picture from Google

Coun Peter Jackson has applied for planning permission to build a free-range egg production unit on land at Westcotes Farm, to the north-west of Ponteland – which is one of the land holdings listed on his register of interests.

The green steel portal-framed building, measuring 120 metres by 24.5 metres with a ridge height of seven metres, would house 32,000 birds and an egg-packing unit.

A visual mock-up of the proposed fire station submitted with the application.

The building would be located to the northern end of a field close to the existing steading, which consists of other farm buildings and the farmhouse. The field around the building would be used for the free-range chickens to roam.

In addition, a turning area is proposed for the eastern side of the site which will be accessed through the steading.

The application has to be decided by councillors given that the applicant is the authority’s leader and he therefore has a financial interest.

However, the report recommending approval at next Tuesday’s (March 5) meeting of the council’s strategic planning committee also reveals objections from Ponteland Town Council and Ponteland Civic Society.

The civic society’s response highlights that ‘a unit this size would produce considerable quantities of chicken manure’ and there are no details as to how this would be managed.

Its response claims there is a similar lack of detail about mitigation measures to deal with ammonia, nitrogen and acid deposition levels, while also pointing out that new homes are to be built at the former police HQ, ‘which will come within 1.8k of the shed’.

However, the planning officer’s report explains that while the council’s public protection team raises concerns ‘regarding light impact and odour emissions from the manure storage and handling activities’, they agree with the proposal ‘subject to conditions which would overcome any concern’.

It adds: ‘Manure handling details will be attached to a decision notice, this would enable this aspect to be considered and thus it would be unreasonable to refuse the application on this ground.’

The town council’s objection refers to ecology and archaeology, but the relevant reports have been submitted and the county ecologist and archaeologist have no objections to the scheme.

Also earmarked for approval at next Tuesday’s meeting is a new fire station on land west of Ponteland High School, on the B6323 Callerton Lane.

The site would feature a single-storey, seven-metre-high fire station, a 14-metre-high training tower, a training yard and 13 parking bays.

It is located approximately 340 metres south of the existing fire station which is to be demolished, freeing up land for the town’s major new school and leisure development.

The application, which is recommended for approval, has sparked five objections, citing concerns over the loss of trees and hedgerow, road safety, the general design and appearance, and the impact on the landscape corridor along Callerton Lane.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service