On Wednesday evening 9th October approx 550 residents filed into the Hall at Ponteland High School for the public meeting on the Lugano outline planning application for Birney Hill Farm.
Peter Jackson, leader of the Conservative party Northumberland, was the first speaker. He stated that this application would open the flood gates to building on the Ponteland Green Belt and would be the beginning of the end of Ponteland and Darras Hall as we know it. The audience was reminded that Lugano had already purchased 2,500 acres and were also acting on behalf of other land owners in the area interested in development. Cll Jackson received an overwhelming applause for his contribution.
The access to the Northumberland Local Plan, Core Strategy on Housing, Employment and the Green Belt Preferred Options Document was of major concern of the attendees, they were suspicious of the timing of its release and its content. Many of the questions from the floor were geared to the planners to answer on this topic.
Whilst other residents focused their concerns on the outline planning application at Birney Hill with questions on potential flooding and surface water drainage issues in the area and the likely impact they would have on surrounding lower ground levels, particularly in the adjacent Edgehill, Darras Hall.
The Environment Agency dismissed Luganos proposed drainage system as inadequate and Northumberland Water advised that Eland Lane pumping station was at full capacity.
Newcastle Airport reserved comment until they had considered a recently received report.
Traffic and car parking issues were dismissed by the Highways Dept, they did not think there was a need for extra car parking spaces despite the fact that parts of Ponteland are grid locked twice a day during the school run.
The Community Land Trust document has been sent to NCC, but as yet has not been agreed. Lugano are in discussions with 3 different companies and intend to pass over the entire responsibility to the Trust. No answer was given to how this would operate or the likely charges, responsibilities and liabilities this would bring to the Birney Hill residents.
The indication of the affordable housing provision was, that they were not affordable due to the high prices of the area and there was nothing in place to control the prices and status when the ownership was passed on.
To conclude, I don’t think anybody was convinced