Residents celebrate after Ponteland green belt planning application refused

Council votes to refuse application to build up to 280 homes on green belt land in Ponteland

Alma Dunnigan speaks at the public meeting over the proposal to build on green belt land at Ponteland
Alma Dunnigan speaks at the public meeting over the proposal to build on green belt land at Ponteland

Villagers were celebrating after winning their fight to stop controversial plans to build homes on green belt in Northumberland.

But last night developer Lugano insisted they would appeal Northumberland County Council’s refusal for their bid to build 280 homes on farmland at Ponteland.

At the meeting at Hexham auction mart last night, members of the authority’s west area committee unanimously voted to refuse the plans which attracted opposition from all sides. Planning officers had recommended the scheme be refused, claiming it would “represent inappropriate development in the green belt”.

Speaking after the decision last night, Richard Robson, from Lugano, said that the developers were disappointed but would appeal the decision. He said: “We will certainly be progressing an appeal. A lot of the issues that have been brought up, a lot of technical information has been exchanged and we feel there has not been enough time for that to be evaluated.”

Lugano had been seeking outline planning permission for the development at Birney Hill Farm, with the proposal covering the demolition of some buildings, plus provision of office, retail, educational or community facilities and a community farm.

However, 4,310 letters were submitted in opposition to the choice of site. Newcastle International Airport, the Environment Agency, the county council’s strategic housing, conservation, public protection and flood management departments, also objected. The council was sent 487 letters of support.

During the meeting councillors questioned issues over surface water and increased flood risk, problems with Newcastle Airport, as well as the risks of the site being a foot and mouth burial ground.

Alma Dunigan of the Ponteland Green Belt Group, who spoke against the application last night said she was happy with the result.

She said: “Yes of course the Ponteland Green Belt Group, the supporters and the whole of Ponteland are delighted with the decision to uphold the planning officers’ recommendation to refuse this application.

“This has been the third proposed development application we have objected to in the Ponteland area in the past year. The reasons for the Ponteland Green Belt Group objections has always been on the preservation of the green belt, never about who the developers are.

“I am sure that Lugano will consider whether to appeal and we are ready for that.”

Coun Peter Jackson, representing Ponteland South with Heddon for the county council, and Elizabeth Thompson, chair of the Ponteland Town Council planning committee, both welcomed the decision but acknowledged it may not be the end.

Coun Jackson said: “I am absolutely delighted for the community, it is like a huge weight has been taken off their shoulders. It has been niggling away for the residents in Ponteland for a year-and-a-half now and I just hope that the applicants have got the sense to see there are so many reasons why it should not go ahead that they give up now and not put us through an appeal in six to nine months time.”

Coun Thompson added that she knew it may not be the end of the story but that last night was a win.

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