Plans to allow 3,000 greenbelt homes on the edge of Newcastle risk being undermined by confusion over a “road to nowhere”, an inquiry has heard.
Newcastle Council came under fire for its road plans yesterday at a planning inquiry into the document which paves the way for 30,000 new homes in Tyneside.
Some 3,000 of them will be on greenbelt land at Callerton, on the outer west edge of the city.
A planning inspector heard that plans to link all the sites together still did not include clear indications of who will fund the road and build it, or exactly where it will go.
The public examination taking place this week is meant to be the final stage in the plan that outlines where homes and businesses can be built over the next two decades in Newcastle and Gateshead.
But with no clear indication if the road will go ahead, planning inspector Martin Pike made clear that he will have to consider whether the plans for three new villages to be built on greenbelt land can go ahead, or if a more limited road system will have to be ordered.
Mr Pike indicated there was some concern that the road, initially earmarked as a bypass, was not at the point where “a particular location had been identified even though it goes through the greenbelt.” A route from the A69 to the A696 was proposed by the council, with the latest plans based on linking roads between the three sites rather than a dual carriageway.
But at one point in the inquiry it emerged there was no firm idea over who would pay for the links to the main road network, and that some of the land needed was not owned by the council or the developers wishing to build on the site.
On several occasions Mr Pike hinted at concerns that a major planning document could come before him with such a level of confusion, making clear he wanted to know why the deliverability of such a key road was not in the plan.
Sandy Irving, a green party member among those objecting to the greenbelt plans, said: “I am very confused as to who will build what for how much. The whole plan is unravelling before our eyes.”
Opposition councillor Anita Lower said: “We have seen today that the council has no idea how this road to nowhere will be built or where exactly it will go.”
Mr Pike made clear he was “struggling” with council plans for large parts of the planned road, including the links to upper Callerton and lower Callerton, adding that he will “have to decide if they should stay there or not”.
A council spokesman said: “We are clear that a road is required to manage the impact of traffic generated by new housing west of the city. It will have to be delivered in phases and that will be demonstrated through transport assessments submitted through the planning process for each of the villages once the inspector has made a decision.”
The transport issues follow concerns that new homes would not be served by enough good schools.
The latest day of the inquiry at Gateshead Civic centre started after a delay following a medical incident as a man passed out in the crowded room. Mr Pike spent a considerable part of the morning enquiring if a larger room could be made available, though Gateshead Council insisted there was no other option in the council building.