Hundreds of residents of an upmarket community turned out yesterday to show their opposition to plans for a major housing development.
Around 200 people from Darras Hall and Ponteland staged a silent protest at Northumberland County Council’s site visit for the application for 280 homes at Birney Hill Farm, part of green belt around the two settlements.
The West area planning committee’s site visit to Lugano’s proposed development location saw members of the Ponteland Green Belt group and the general public waving banners bearing the phrase “Ponteland residents says no to building on the green belt.” Local councillors were also there. A total of 4,300 objections have been lodged with the county council.
However, Lugano was last night taking heart from a report to the authority which recommends the release of some green belt at Ponteland for housing.
After the site visit, Alma Dunigan, of the green belt group, said: “I knew there would be a good response but this has one beyond our expectations. I think it just shows how Ponteland residents really feel.
“Remember, 4,300 objections. If you work on the basis there is 11,000 population, that is an exceptional turnout.
“The green belt group are not against progress or development but put it in the right place.”
County councillor for the area Peter Jackson added: “Not only were there thousands of written objections in an unprecedented wave but the local residents feel so strongly that they have turned up in their hundreds.”
During the site visit, council planning officer Mark Ketley and committee member Ian Hutchinson unwittingly held up a “Ponteland residents says no...” banner which was handed to them by a resident after wind was blowing a map the duo were holding.
A public meeting has been organised by the county council at Ponteland High School tomorrow at 6pm.
One hundred and fifty people had confirmed their attendance by Saturday morning but that number is expected to exceed 200.
The planning committee was yesterday told the application will be determined at its meeting on October 30, which will take place at Hexham mart. Lugano has previously said its project is a £96m development which will create 672 construction jobs and a further 228 in the region.
Scott Munro, planning director at the firm, last night highlighted a report to a meeting of the county council tomorrow which recommends the deletion of some of the green belt at Ponteland to allow housing.
The company is not the only firm seeking to develop on green belt in the area.
Banks is working on plans for 500 homes at Clickemin Farm, east of Ponteland.
Mr Munro said: “We are certainly first across the line with our application.”
Residents fighting the two schemes are backed by Coun Jackson and other local Conservative councillors and Hexham MP Guy Opperman.