Ponteland homes plan rejected
Published at 15:49, Thursday, 31 October 2013
A £13.5m sweetener failed to convince councillors to approve controversial housing plans for Ponteland’s green belt.
The application to build 280 homes on land at Birney Hill Farm, next to Stamfordham Road, was unanimously rejected by Northumberland County Council’s west area committee on Wednesday night.
A small crowd turned out at Hexham Mart to hear both representatives from developers Lugano and objectors fight their case.
The application attracted more than 4,300 objections and over 480 letters of support.
Other bodies including Newcastle International Airport, the Environment Agency, and the council’s flood management and archeologists also objected.
Planning officers recommended that the application be refused on a number of points including risk of the site flooding and causing “demonstrable harm to the landscape and character of the open countryside”.
However Lugano, supported by the Northumberland Business Network, argued the site would bring much needed housing and improved infrastructure to the area.
It added that the development would be supported by £13.5m through a community land trust – owned and run by residents to manage the land and would help deliver affordable housing – which it warned may not be available again if the application was refused.
But the sweetener was not enough to convince councillors to back the plans which included a community farm, shop, offices and provision for education. They cited concerns over flooding, with some noting fears over the impact on the character of the area.
Lugano has already indicated it will appeal against the decision.
Ponteland Green Belt Group, Alma Dunigan, said: “Of course our supporters and the whole of Ponteland are delighted with the decision.
“I am sure Lugano will consider whether to appeal and we are ready for that.
“Today’s decision sends a clear message to any other developers who are thinking about submitting planning applications on designated green belt. Land is precious and we need to use it more wisely.”
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk
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