A CITY versus countryside row between council planning officers has emerged as Tyneside seeks to have its say on where homes and roads are built in rural Durham and Northumberland.
For the last 12 months council planning officers have been going over each others’ local plans, set to pave the way for tens of thousands of homes.
And as residents’ protests continue in Newcastle over the scale of green belt development, The Journal can reveal Newcastle City Council officials told their Northumberland counterparts of “concerns” over plans set to allow similar developments in Ponteland.
Newcastle told Northumberland it believed the county’s plans for growth over the next two decades appeared “over ambitious,” suggesting the green belt homes needed to help accommodate that growth are misguided. Northumberland needs to build up to 24,000 homes, its own planners say, to accommodate a population increase.
But at Newcastle’s Civic Centre, plans are under way to try to reverse a trend which sees 300 people a year move out of the city into Northumberland.
And as Northumberland looks to build on the green belt, Newcastle appears to have borrowed from its own opponents and told the county: “We would like to discuss the impact of additional housing at Ponteland on the A1/A696 and the potential provided by the potential airport link road being considered in our Core Strategy.”
Newcastle City Council has insisted there is no row. Head of planning Nicola Woodward said: “We are simply saying that we want to discuss the implications so we can between us manage any impacts on infrastructure.
“We are absolutely not saying that Northumberland shouldn't build at Ponteland.”
But those same concerns appeared when Northumberland wrote to Newcastle and Gateshead about the Tyneside core strategy, which will see more than 30,000 homes built over the next two decades.
Newcastle has already had to water these plans down as a result of widespread protest – a move Northumberland welcomed.
At the same time, though, it warned that Newcastle’s final plans may be a step too far, saying the continued urban spread presented by its green belt building may prove to be a concern.
In Gateshead, the council’s planning officials have told Durham County Council it will have to fund road works in the borough if it builds thousands more homes, saying that “additional housing development in north Durham will place additional pressure on transport links to/from Gateshead”.
They complained that Durham had produced no assessment of the transport impact other than for “Durham City and its immediate environ”.
And amid concerns the new homes will undermine recently announced A1 improvements, planning officers told Durham it should look to fund mitigation schemes in Gateshead, with “the A692 through Sunniside, Lobley Hill etc being an obvious example”.
The comments from all councils were made as part of ongoing consultations into legally-required core strategies setting out where homes, roads and business parks can be built.