No doubt there were sighs of relief all round when Newcastle and Gateshead’s planning strategy won approval from a Government planning inspector.
A similar process in Durham recently went very pear-shaped indeed, to general surprise and dismay.
Make no mistake about it, these plans are important. We must have new businesses, we must diversify, we must develop quality new jobs.
Alongside these things we must also have new homes. And some of them will be in the green belt.
For some, any encroachment into the green belt is to be deplored. Yet the needs and demands of cities grow and change – and the boundaries of green belts need to respond to that change. Sensible growth cannot be achieved simply by using brownfield land.
Newcastle and Gateshead’s success in reaching this point is that they will now be able to grow in a balanced way.
Once the plans have been given final approval Tyneside should have proper protection against undesirable development.
Meanwhile in Durham, MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has made a sensible contribution to the debate over the county’s failure to get its own plan past a Government inspector.
Her point is that the toys should stay in the pram. Hopefully, a wholesale redrawing of the plan may not be necessary.
If Durham listens to the inspector’s concerns and addresses them in detail it may win approval for a plan that retains the ambition and vision that the inspector seemed to have such an issue with.
It’s a shame that the inspector did not share Durham’s ambitions for itself. But that can’t be the end of the story.