The proposal for Green Belts in the UK came in the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 and they were implemented in the 1950s. Ponteland is entirely surrounded by Green Belt, indeed, the settlement is defined by its Green Belt. Its purpose is clear and unequivocal – to protect the countryside from urban sprawl and protect the character of the Ponteland.
How does it do this?
- Checks developments of urban growth or large built-up areas.
- Prevents the merger of neighbouring towns such as could happen if the west Newcastle Green belt was breached at Woolsington.
- Safeguards the countryside
- Assists in regeneration by encouraging more use of brown field sites.
Why do we need to maintain it?
Most of our Green belt is farmland used for crops and sheep. Since the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001 there have been no cattle on the farms but some are turning to livery for horses. We need the crops to feed people and the fields provide areas for carbon storage and limit the impact of flooding.
The Green Belt is important for wildlife and provides a link with conservation sites, like Prestwick Carr, through the hedgerows and streams which are important linking green corridors. There is abundant wildlife in our Green Belt and a number of residents on the boundaries have recorded their observations with binoculars and cameras at the ready. The natural green environment is not an add-on or a trophy extra for our population; the landscape is an essential part of our living space.
WHAT IS THE THREAT TO THE PONTELAND GREEN BELT?
The government in Whitehall and our local MP Guy Opperman say that the Green belt will remain protected and will not in any way be watered down. These assurances come from Eric Pickles, the larger than life minister for Local Communities, who said there would be no changes to the protections outlined by the government in their National Policy Framework. Oh good then. But on the other hand the local councils, or the Northumberland County Council in our case, can make changes to the Green Belt. They are currently considering this as part of their Core Strategy to be published by March next year.
Meanwhile, developers are looking at ways to make some fast bucks and two proposals for hundreds, even thousands, of new houses are threatening the Green Belt. Both the Ponteland Town Council and the Northumberland CC should be aware of the uniqueness of Ponteland and the importance of such a village near Newcastle since it is a big plus in drawing professional people into the region. It has developed from a small rural village with a well- planned estate developing over the last hundred years. There is no other town or village like it in the country! It is unique! If developers are allowed to build on the Green Belt then sheer size and numbers will destroy what we have and value and why we choose to live here.
How can YOU help to prevent this potential desecration of the Green Belt?
- Sign up to Green Belt Group through the website
- Spread the word and discuss with your neighbours
- Write objections – we will help you – when planning applications are submitted
- Sponsor a ‘SAY NO’ board – cost £22.20
- Donate towards the Group’s expenses
- Numbers are important – we need your support