Our plans for Newcastle and Gateshead are ambitious - but also grounded and realistic

Newcastle City Council Cabinet member Ged Bell welcomes approval of a new planning strategy for Tyneside

Cllr Ged Bell
Cllr Ged Bell

A vital decision about the future of our city will be made when councillors meet on March 26.

Now that independent planning Inspector, Martin Pike, has approved the Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan for Gateshead and Newcastle, we can begin the task of turning our vision into reality.

This is an important moment. The Plan is a blueprint for the future. It shows where and how tens of thousands of new jobs and homes will be developed across Newcastle and Gateshead – fulfilling the needs of a growing population and a growing economy.

Once adopted, we will be one of the first urban areas outside London to develop a joint plan, giving developers and investors the certainty that we are open for business, whilst striking the right balance by securing the local environment for our residents.

The Plan will guide development to 2030 and beyond. The Inspector has agreed that it’s based on robust evidence, on how our city will grow, the number of new homes we will need, and the way in which our local economy will develop.

Our ambitious plans for the city are rooted in sound evidence - a grounded and realistic platform for a city with a great future. In putting together his report, the Inspector found that the overarching spatial strategy including the amount of land allocated for new homes, jobs, and retail development was justified.

He also supported the proposals to build homes and communities at Callerton, Newbiggin Hall, Kingston Park/Kenton Bank Foot, Newcastle Great Park, Dinnington, Throckley, Hazlerigg and Wideopen. The Inspector also supported the proposed alterations to the green belt boundary.

We consulted extensively on these proposals and this generated a huge amount of public interest and lively debate. Indeed the Inspector has recognised the lengths we went to involve and consult local people – and the way that we’ve adapted our Plan to reflect their concerns.

In particular we’ve listened to what people told us about the potential loss of green space. We made sure that the majority of housing development will be on brownfield land and in regeneration areas, and also prioritised new sites in the urban core, for business and job creation. The voices of local people have made this Plan stronger, and I’d personally like to thank everyone who got involved and had their say. We’ll continue to work closely with the public as delivery of the Plan unfolds over the coming years.

Importantly, whilst the Inspectors approval marks a major milestone, in reality it’s just the beginning.

Developers and investors will now come forward with their proposals and planning applications, which build on the vision for the city which we’ve provided. We know that many developers and investors are excited about the prospects for helping our city to grow – bringing the businesses, jobs and new homes we need.

By 2030, the Plan will have supported the growth of approximately 14,000 additional jobs in sectors such as new technology, offshore engineering, creative and digital, and business and financial services.

To support that, it will have created the extra 21,000 homes and supporting infrastructure needed to match our economic ambitions and to support population growth. We will have new communities, where people want to live, at a price which is affordable.

With new communities will come all the infrastructure required to make them great places to live.

Things like new schools, health facilities, public transport links, shops and amenities – and healthy communities with green spaces, cycling routes and leisure facilities.

I firmly believe that new homes and business districts will be a breath of fresh air to many of our existing communities - making existing facilities more sustainable and making the case for further investment.

And in building new communities we will set a new course for becoming a city of the future.

Crucially, in an age of continuing austerity, a city that plans to grow demonstrates the ambition which will attract new jobs, new people, and new homes. This means more business rates, and a stronger council tax base to support essential public services that might be otherwise at risk. Our city will be better able to stand on its own two feet, rather than be at the mercy of government spending cuts.

This is hugely important glimpse of what tomorrow’s world will bring for everyone in Newcastle. I’m proud that we’ve got to this point, and excited to see what the future holds. It shows what Newcastle and the wider region is capable of shaping our own future and planning for success.

Coun Ged Bell is Newcastle City Council’s Cabinet member for Investment and Development

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