Northumberland County Council bosses defend green belt homes plan

Green belt plans to build thousands of new homes on protected land have been defended by council bosses desperate to build affordable housing

Maps showing the proposed new sites for housing in Northumberland
Maps showing the proposed new sites for housing in Northumberland

Northumberland County Council was yesterday attacked for planning new homes in areas which are traditionally a source of Conservative votes.

It potentially means Labour would lose few if any seats on the council as a result of unpopular decisions.

Of the 24,000 new homes needed over two decades some 2,100 will be on land identified as green belt, though this figure may end up including formerly built-up sites such as the Ponteland police headquarters.

Among the sites set for several hundred new homes are locations in Hexham, Ponteland and Prudhoe.

Labour says the plans are part of an affordable housing programme which, it insists, will see a 10-year £330m programme for the county.

Council leader Grant Davey said he has funded the new council housing scheme through a mix of prudential borrowing, Government grant allocations and planned agreements through Section 106 deals with private developers.

Mr Davey added: “Our programme will protect the green belt as the Conservative led coalition seek to force council’s to build more homes on green belt areas and our plan build affordable houses across Northumberland is the most ambitious project undertaken by the authority and its partners for many years.

“It’s scandalous that the Conservative want to deny residents a chance to live in affordable housing.

“The Tory attacks on our policy to build homes, create jobs and secure our counties future is reckless at the least and cynical at worst.”

Northumberland County Council has said the new homes are needed to meet a planned 10% population increase by 2031.

Earlier this week, Conservative group leader Peter Jackson said there was “little evidence to support the council’s projected growth claims.”

He described an expectation of 750 new homes around the Ponteland and Darras Hall areas as “the biggest green belt breach” in the North East.

In Hexham the proposal is to plan for 900 new properties, of which 600 will be on land currently counted as green belt.

Planning documents say the preferred option in Hexham is to allow for a settlement extension to the west, in a broad location between the B6531 and the B6305 to accommodate approximately 600 dwellings as well as employment development.

Prudhoe sees 1,000 new homes built, of which 350 are in the town.

Green belt protections could be removed from the hospital site which would see 650 homes built there.

If this option is not followed the site will take 400 homes and then the council will look to the west of the town for further green belt changes.

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