Claims village is carrying the 'unrealistically' heavy load of housing plans

Members of the Ponteland Green Belt Committee have submitted a 25-page document in which they share their concerns

Ponteland’s Green Belt Committee members Tony Noble, Lesley Noble, Alma Dunigan, Steve Carss and Gaye Templeton
Ponteland’s Green Belt Committee members Tony Noble, Lesley Noble, Alma Dunigan, Steve Carss and Gaye Templeton

A rural village is being singled out to “carry a disproportionate and unrealistic heavy load” in council plans to delete green belt land, a protest group have claimed.

Ponteland Green Belt Group have submitted a 25-page manifesto as a consultation period for proposals to wipe-out huge swathes of protected land draw to a close.

Northumberland County Council devised a plan to re-draw green belt boundaries in a bid to solve a housing crisis caused by a failure to keep pace with a growing population.

But the 1,000-strong residents’ organisation - which opposes the plans - collected more than 500 responses from those living in the area and delivered them to planning officials.

In an objection letter submitted this week, the group claim Ponteland “is being singled out to carry a disproportionate, unrealistic heavy load to build houses”.

It states: “The justifiable requirements for housing and economic development can be accommodated entirely within existing available sites.”

As well as disagreeing with the council’s classification of Ponteland as a ‘service centre’, the group also claim population predictions are “excessive” and means the council run the risk of “over development”.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “The population expectation over next 20 years is only 4% - that conflicts with the 850 houses.

“You could actually argue that we should have 180 houses being delivered in the next 20 years.

“Ponteland is a dormitory village with limited residents who choose to live here and work elsewhere. We run the risk of over-developing housing in Ponteland.” The spokeswoman added: “We are not being nimbies - we understand there must be development but we believe the brown belt land could accommodate this.”

Council leaders drew up the plans last year in an attempt to plug the housing deficit by “deleting” green belt land around Hexham, Prudhoe and Ponteland “in order to deliver the level of economic and housing development required”. Boundaries around Morpeth were also earmarked for adjustment.

In the objection lodged this week the group wrote: “It is important to stress from the outset of this document that the Ponteland Green Belt Group are not against development in Ponteland per se.

“We believe that any development should be proportional and must not have a detrimental affect on the unique and distinctive character of the village.”

But they said they should be proud of staving off development in other parts of Northumberland - including a proposed development in Darras Hall.

The Ponteland group spokeswoman said: “We can’t see any reasoning for the deletion of green belt land. It’s unnecessary.

“We should celebrate the last year, the commitment and work of the supporters [who have fought off other developments in Darras Hall] because they’ve been absolutely fantastic.

“It really shows how working hard together what you can actually achieve.”

Karen Ledger, head of development services at Northumberland County Council, said: “Yesterday was the end of the third period of public consultation on Northumberland’s Core Strategy.

“Over the next few weeks the xouncil will be considering all the comments received at this stage, which will inform the next iteration of the plan. This will be subject to further consultation in the Spring.”

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