Hexham MP says campaigners are at 'last chance saloon' in bid to save greenbelt

Northumberland County Council says new homes are needed as report is due on One Core Strategy plans within weeks

Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham
Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham

Campaigners to preserve Northumberland’s greenbelt are at the “last chance saloon” as local authority plans move into the final stage.

Hexham MP Guy Opperman said he will not give up fighting to stop the building of homes on greenbelt as Northumberland County Council’s One Core Strategy report is due in weeks.

The plan allows for 24,000 homes to be built, and 2,100 of those could be on greenbelt land in Hexham, Ponteland and Prudhoe.

The decision is set to be delayed after the council admitted some data did not back up plans for a large increase in Northumberland’s population.

Mr Opperman said: “Northumberland County Council’s local plan, despite endless delays, now looks like it is beginning to draw to a close.

“Those of us who have been fighting to preserve our greenbelt are hoping we have been listened to.

“Fundamentally I believe in the green belt, and I will always be a big champion of the Greenbelt both locally and in Parliament.

“I have supported and continue to support substantial development of housing at brown field sites like the old police headquarters site in Ponteland, the old hospital site in Prudhoe and the old hospital in Stannington.

“However, what I want I want to see going forward is community led, organic growth in individual communities.

“I hope we have made some progress in increasing the amount of greenbelt land protected from housing but I fear when the council’s final plan is produced there will remain substantial areas of the greenbelt earmarked for housing.

“Despite the fact that nationally building on the Greenbelt is at its lowest since 1987, Northumberland County Council still seem determined to build thousands of houses on our precious greenbelt here in Northumberland.

“We must preserve as much of the Counties greenbelt as possible for future generations.

“That is not a fight I will ever give up on, but it really does look like we are now heading towards the last chance saloon.”

Coun Allan Hepple, policy board member responsible for housing, planning and regeneration at the council said: “The policy board will soon be considering consultation on the full draft core strategy. We will be communicating details of this widely and encourage everyone to take the opportunity to have their say during the eight week consultation.

“At each stage in the development of the local plan we have welcomed comments and feedback, and taken these into account before moving to the next stage. There will be further consultation on both the pre submission version and again on the submission plan – both during 2015.

“Through the local plan we want to ensure that the county can thrive economically, while protecting its special qualities, and also see a level of population growth.”

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