Regeneration scheme blow for residents

A section of the Merton Way shopping centre in Ponteland.
A section of the Merton Way shopping centre in Ponteland.

After almost 10 years since the first public meeting about the subject, it appears that Ponteland residents will have to wait many more years for a project to revamp the village centre to come to fruition.

Northumberland County Council has confirmed that a regeneration scheme for Merton Way is no longer included in its developing core strategy that covers the period up to 2031.

It does say that this does not mean it will refuse to support any future plans coming forward, but it is another blow to those who had worked on a scheme to improve the area that was backed by a large majority of residents.

After the recommendation of an initial report by Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners – commissioned by a group of local organisations – was not well received by the Ponteland public, Ponteland Community Partnership (PCP) took on the responsibility for overseeing the Merton Way regeneration.

A regeneration sub-group put together a design brief and it received approval from residents at a public meeting in February 2008.

This resulted in a preferred developer, MKP Partnership, coming on board a year later.

Its plans included the building of new retail units, office space and residential accommodation, new car parking and an increase in green space.

However, the future of the library was a major sticking point in its negotiations with the county council and an agreement could not be reached.

The authority said at the time (July 2014) that its development company, Arch, would work with community representatives to try and create a new scheme.

Long-serving PCP member Syd Cowan said: “We were quite frustrated at what happened with MKP and we’re disappointed that nothing has been put forward in relation to Merton Way since then.

“We’re now looking at projects we can do without too much influence from the county council.”

A county council spokesman said: “As there are currently no specific plans for a regeneration scheme in Ponteland town centre, the reference was removed from the core strategy.

“This doesn’t mean, however, that should a plan come forward, the council would not support it.”