Residents step up their fight against new homes

The proposed Birney Hill development site.
The proposed Birney Hill development site.

RESIDENTS once again came out in strong numbers to oppose housing plans in Ponteland’s Green Belt.

Detailed information about the Birney Hill site, which would contain 280 new properties, was on display at a Lugano Group exhibition in the Memorial Hall on Saturday.

While some comments were made about particular aspects of the scheme, many of the 380 people who attended believe that no homes should be built in that area.

They also had the chance to speak with members of the Ponteland Green Belt Group.

It claims that new housing requirements in Ponteland can be met by already approved applications such as the Northumbria Police headquarters site and brownfield plots.

Lugano argues that there is not enough brownfield land to accommodate the demands of Northumberland County Council so some new homes will have to be built in the Green Belt.

On Saturday, it revealed that it will progress ‘option three’ as it creates more green corridors to allow greater public walking and cycling through the site and allows for a varied architectural approach in each pocket of properties.

Ponteland Green Belt Group Chairman Alma Dunigan said: “This event gave residents the chance to see something more formalised from Lugano, but they were still adamant that they don’t want to see any homes being built on the Green Belt. Ponteland is united on this issue because developments on this scale will affect everyone living in the area, even those who can’t see the homes will be impacted by the knock-on effects.

“It has gathered so much momentum in people’s thoughts that residents of the village and Darras Hall have bonded together in a common cause and the number of group members continues to grow.

“Nothing stands still and it’s not that we’re against development, but it’s the size and location of the proposals which we’re unhappy with because they are totally inappropriate for our community.”

Plans are also in the pipeline for up to 500 new homes on a site on Clickemin Farm. The Banks Property project would cover both sides of the A696, behind Cheviot View up to Rotary Way and also behind Ridgley Drive.

Residents’ concerns about both schemes include the extra traffic that would result from an influx of families and pressure on local schools, as well as the impact on flood risk.

Lugano Group says it chose Birney Hill because people heading into Newcastle would not have to travel through the centre of Ponteland.

Funds would be available to improve traffic and pedestrian movement and the site would also include play areas and a hub with a farm shop and small business centre.

As well as distinctive low-density large houses and some self build plots, there would be 60 affordable houses with no hidden service charges as part of the scheme.

Housing design, community facilities, landscaping, wildlife and sustainability were other issues that people could discuss with specialists.

Lugano director Richard Robson said: “This was our third community event in Ponteland, but it was the first time we had been able to show local people details about the proposed Birney Hill development.

“Of particular interest to visitors were the Community Land Trust, affordable houses, wildlife and environmental initiatives as well as the self-build plots. We’re grateful to everyone who took the time to visit the exhibition and discuss aspects of it with us. The dialogue is really useful in helping us shape and fine tune proposals for the scheme.”