Cities for People green belt group fights to keep strict North East housing targets

Developers bid to make Newcastle and Gateshead drop a five year phasing plan at the One Core Strategy examination in public

Rui Vieira/PA Wire Terrace Hill is to buy London company Urban & Civic
A house being built

A planning inspector has been told he must not force through a rush in North house building.

Green belt opponents ended the first week in a housing battle agreeing with council planning officers on the need to phase in plans for new homes.

Newcastle and Gateshead councils are seeking final Government approval for around 30,000 new homes, with some 8,000 of them on undeveloped and green belt land.

The plan is for this land to be released over five years, giving Tyneside time to adjust and build the roads needed to handle extra traffic.

At a public inquiry into those plans this week, held at Gateshead Civic Centre, developers from some of the North’s biggest firms raised the prospect of abandoning that timetable and allowing homes to be built as needed.

But Cities for People, a campaign group fighting green belt plans, made clear that removing the time frame would mean no rules forcing firms to use up available brownfield sites first.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “To a man, and one woman, the developers argued against this approach, and tried to defend their option of a complete free-for-all if the plan goes forward.”

Jill Burrell from Cities for People, used an appearance at the committee to strongly emphasise the negatives of allowing all sites to come forward at the outset and quoted examples from Kingston Park and the Great Park about problems likely to ensue.

The campaign group said it appeared that the inspector felt that if there was phasing there would have to be criteria on which it was decided, a move which would see drastic changes to current plans.

This would, the campaigners said, count as a “major modification” and one which may require further consultation.

Already Adam Vaughan, representing Newcastle West Green Belt Protection Campaign, has told in the inquiry that “the plan does not take account of the new brownfield sites likely to become available over the plan period.”

And Sandy Irvine for Cities for People said that “the Green belt had been seen by the councils at the outset of the process as a noose they had to break free from as it was strangling their ambitions for economic growth.”

The two councils have defended their phasing of sites, going up against developers to insist the rules must be kept in place.

From Monday the inquiry will look at plans to build up the “urban core” in Gateshead and Newcastle, including plans to make way for new shopping centres.

The inquiry continues throughout June, with individual green belt building sites up for consideration.


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