Green belt plans revealed as 6,000 Newcastle homes get the go-ahead

Some 6,000 homes will be given the final go-ahead to be built on green belt land – but Newcastle City Council has warned developers were pushing for more

Green belt plans map
Green belt plans map

Some 6,000 homes will be given the final go-ahead to be built on green belt land – but Newcastle City Council has warned developers were pushing for more.

Civic leaders have published their final plans for more than 21,000 new properties over the next two decades as part of documents they say must be approved to control development.

The number of green belt properties to be allowed as part of the controversial Core Strategy has been reduced since the initial plans were published, with the council finding £25m to help bring more brownfield sites back into use.

Initially 7,500 homes were planned for the countryside, but this has been reduced to 6,000.

However the council now faces a difficult time as it prepares for the public inquiry which must now follow the decision.

Council leader Nick Forbes pointed to the White House Farm development just across the border in North Tyneside as an example of what can go wrong if the plan is not approved in time.

View Newcastle greenbelt building in a larger map  

The 366 executive homes are set to be given the go-ahead after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was able to over-rule local concerns as there is no local plan in place to take legal precedence.

Speaking to The Journal, Mr Forbes said: “If we do not have a plan in place we put at risk huge areas of the green belt to speculative developers.

“We know developers are waiting for this process to fail so that they can exploit our lack of a planning framework and go on to build huge new estates all over the green belt.

“By making a clear plan for what is appropriate in which locations, we are acting to ensure that this does not happen.

“We are doing that while realistically managing the housing demands for a growing city population.”

The council has spent the last two years seeking to convince voters of the economic reasons behind the need for more homes, arguing that preserving the green belt in its entirety is simply not possible if the city, or the villages on the outskirts of it, wish to survive.

That message has met with frequent opposition, seeing some of the biggest protests in recent years as families across the city united in regular civic centre demonstrations.

Concerns were further raised when secret plans for a major new dual carriageway bypass were revealed.

Woodlands will have to be paved over for a road linking the A69, the A696 and the A1, with some �30m initially identified for the new route.

The council has since watered down those plans, insisting that the final version sees only a series of link roads for new developments which officials say will not be used as an A1 overflow.

Planning director Harvey Emms said the city was also working on capacity improvements on the A1, which should help prevent the new road being targeted by motorists in a hurry.

“There had been concerns of a dual carriageway bypass coming, the work we are carrying out will mean that is not the case,” Mr Emms said.

Mr Forbes said the plans were not just for housing, but vital “for jobs and growth for Newcastle”.

He added: “We have developed these plans over several years of consultation with thousands of people and the final version strikes the right balance between protecting everything that people like about the city and making sure that opportunities are not closed for new people in future.”

Final papers are released this week. Following representations made during the consultation period from September 9 to October 21, a report will go to cabinet in December and Full Council in early 2014 before being submitted to the government for its independent examination.


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