Only a few days left before the deadline on objections for the Outline Planning Application at Birney Hill Farm, but I’m sure you already knew that.

What has been going on during this consultation period?
All the Statutory Consultees have been contacted regarding this planning application, they in turn will consider how this could affect their provision of services to the existing consumers/residents. Based on their findings they will submit an individual official report to Northumberland County Council.

Just like us, they will be able to support, comment or object to the application giving reasons to endorse their decision. There are 29 of these consultees, Newcastle Airport, Natural England, Ponteland Town Council are just a few that will reply to the local authority within a 21 day period.

During this period of time Northumberland County Council has been going through a standard procedure of pre-registration. This application is considered a large scale development and is processed by a team of Planning Officers headed up by the Case Officer.

Representation from the Greenbelt Group has met with the Case Officer to discuss the process of this application. Over 200 documents have been submitted and all will need checking and analysing before the responses from ourselves and the Statutory Consultees can be gone through.

What decisions have been made and why?
The forthcoming Elections have had an effect on the process, from the 21st March to 4th May we come into the ”Purdah period” where no policies can be altered or changed, this has an impact on the Local Authority and how it carries out its day to day business. The Birney Hill application is contentious, the length of time it is taking Officers to go through all of these documents and waiting for the consultees final responses has not been easy. That is why the decision was made for this application not to be heard at the April, West Area Planning Committee but to wait until June after the election period had finished and Councillors were in place for the next period of Office.

 Some of you have asked why is this planning application being heard at Morpeth and not Hexham? This would normally be the location where an application for this area would be held.  Northumberland County Council Officers had an early indication and anticipated the reaction to the Birney Hill Farm application, the Hexham facility for Planning Committee is small and limited so an early decision was made to relocate to Morpeth at County Hall.

Other information
A number of the Statutory Consultees have requested an extension of time to carry out further investigations. This can only be viewed as positive.

Hard copies of the application at the Library and the Town Council Office have been provided by the Applicant, normally the Town Council would download the documents from the website but due to the number of documents submitted for this outline proposal the decision was made not to provide this. Northumberland County Council made the request to the Applicant and they have responded.

What happens next?
If anyone has forgotten to respond the Greenbelt Group have been assured, by Northumberland County Council, that the response will be still be considered. There is still time to talk with friends and neighbours I think we need 2,000 objections, that has been the target and I don’t think we are far away from that number, so let’s make it more!!

Don’t forget the information is still on the website

What is the Committee going to be doing now?
Next week the Greenbelt Group will be delivering all of your responses that were delivered to the two local addresses in Ponteland, one on Cheviot View and the other on Darras Road. The Case Officer has requested that they are delivered to him in person at County Hall.

We still aim to meet with Northumberland County Council until the planning meeting in June 2013.

If there is any further information we will notify you, as we have to date, I would certainly watch the press as we will.

Please remember this is not going away, this is only one application and this may only be the start.

Core Strategy

The Ponteland Greenbelt Group are concerned about the Northumberland Core Strategy because until this document is in place, the existing Castle Morpeth Borough Council District Plan of 2003 and its policies within, are weakened even though there is nothing to replace it.

This is why we call it a “window of opportunity” for Developers

After the 29th March 2013 the Castle Morpeth District Plan looses even more weight against the emerging Northumberland County Council Core strategy.

We have all reacted against recent planning applications putting “Greenbelt”at risk at Birney Hill, which is a knee jerk reaction by Developers to this “window” but we should also look to the reason why this has happened. Because a Core Strategy is not in place Developers make speculative applications, so we should collectively take a more active role in participating in the consultation process of the emerging Core Strategy.

The more constructive responses that are received by Northumberland County Council the more we will be influencing the next stage. If we do nothing we could experience things being imposed upon us, so have your say and make a difference.

There is a deadline for your responses of the 20th March 2013

To find out more click the links below
What is the Northumberland Development Plan Core Strategy
Northumberland Core Strategy – Preferred Option Consultation
Northumberland Core Strategy Document – Preferred Options Consultation Responses