Town Council’s response to the South East Ponteland SPD

This is the Town Council’s response to the South East Ponteland SPD

RESPONSE ON Northumberland Local Plan Ponteland SPD – Modifications dated 11 November 2016

General points
The Town Council continues to question the stated housing numbers for Northumberland and the soundness of the model.NCC’s model says over 24000 new dwellings are needed to create 10000 jobs but this has not been explained. Nor do we understand why the 2014 ONS data has not been used as this suggests a DCLG starting point of around 11000 new dwellings.

Throughout NCC’s consultations on the Core Strategy there has been inconsistency in the housing numbers for Ponteland. The numbers have ranged from 850 to 640 to a minimum of 640 then to an indicative 900 and now to a minimum of 2900 including the Dissington Garden Village proposal. The figure of 2900 represents around 12% of the total proposed housing numbers for Northumberland and that is too high a quota for the small town of Ponteland. In an earlier consultation on the Core Strategy, NCC stated that the addition of 1000 new dwellings would change the character of Ponteland – which begs the question of what 2900 will do.

PTC also questions the ‘exceptional circumstances’ for the review of the Green Belt boundary around Ponteland.PTC feels that the case has not been made to substantiate this need.

Paragraph 1.8 states that Ponteland has been identified as requiring a change to the Green Belt boundary. PTC has already accepted that the site of the former Police HQ should be prioritised for development but many Ponteland residents have stated in previous consultations that special circumstances have not been demonstrated to delete more Green Belt for housing.

The Town Council remains very concerned about the preservation of the character and setting of Ponteland and the residents strong desire to protect the Green Belt is not being considered. The proposed Green Belt deletion will ultimately bring Ponteland close to Newcastle, which is contrary to the provisions of the NPPF, Paragraph 80.

The document consistently refers to the fact that feedback was taken into account in previous iterations of the core strategy. It is recognised that changes have been made to the proposed location of the school and leisure facilities and a change has been made in terms of taking out reference to employment land however, there is still a significant number of housing units proposed for the triangle site; residents have been consistent in their approach to responding to the NCC proposal to delete this Green Belt land for housing.
The SPD proposals do not sit in isolation; if the Dissington estate development proceeds, then 400 houses on the Green Belt site proposed by Messrs. Banks will not be required to achieve the OAN.
The Town Council is still of the opinion that the triangle of land is the wrong area for new housing which would be better located elsewhere such as on the former Police HQ site.

The SPD document continues to refer to Ponteland as a ‘main town’. There is a major inconsistency in the references to the status of Ponteland. For example, it has been described as a tier 1 settlement, then a service centre, then a main town and then a smaller town centre. Ponteland was changed to a smaller town in the Proposed Major modifications consultation carried out in June 2016 (MAJ/05/42) but the latest SPD seems to re-classify Ponteland as a Main Town.

There is little detail included in the SPD about proposed housing other than to say there will be 400 houses behind Cheviot View. It is vague to say the least.
There is little detail about the education and leisure provision – again it is very vague which makes it difficult to comment other than in general terms.

Specific comments
Paragraph 3.11 – in relation to land uses, there is scant mention of the PTC interest in the land. PTC has a 125 year lease on the land for the Callerton Play Area and Skate Park with NCC. NCC has asked for the lease to be relinquished but have not offered any alternatives. There is a 20 year break clause on the lease with just under 18 years remaining. This should be acknowledged in the SPD document.

Paragraph 3.27 – The landscape character of the site is described as ‘an area of lower landscape sensitivity’ yet to residents of the area it has a rural character that will be destroyed by what is being proposed for the triangle area.
Views of the landscape cannot fail to be altered at some of locations shown in the revised SPD.
The Ponteland Conservation Area Character Appraisal document 2015 states “the green belt around Ponteland has been assessed using standard methodology and the area of open space to the south and south east of the Parish is considered to be of exceptional strategic importance by the Neighbourhood Plan Group and Ponteland Civic Society”.

Section 7 Development Framework

Housing – There will be 400 homes in the plan period up to 2031 behind Cheviot View – PTC would repeat the comment made as part of the last SPD consultation that the homes are not wanted in that location but would be better sited elsewhere such as the former Police HQ site.

Community and Leisure provision – It is noted that a new ‘community campus’ will be built on the western part of the site nearest to the town centre.
PTC has previously expressed disappointment that improvements to the school and leisure facilities were not proposed in their current locations, this was a comment made in the last SPD consultation. It should be noted however that the Town Council does welcome some improvement in education facilities in Ponteland.

The point should be made that as part of the consultation on schools in Ponteland held earlier this year over 90% of parents voted in favour of a 3 tiers system and against the introduction of a two tier system. Those views however have been largely ignored.

Ponteland Town Council has previously expressed concerns about the proposed sharing of leisure facilities between education and the general public. These concerns were raised as part of the consultation held earlier this year on leisure and are still valid.
It is proposed in the latest SPD that the school and leisure complex should be moved to the Callerton Lane site. The Town Council has major concerns about increased congestion around Ponteland bridge and would welcome additional information regarding the proposed access points on Callerton Lane.
Flood Risk and Drainage– It is stated that the areas of the site falling within a Flood Zone are proposed for playing pitches, car parking or public open space. These are classified as water-compatible developments in national planning guidance. A new landscape buffer is also proposed for the east of the Fairney Burn. It is noted that developers will need to liaise with NCC and the EA regarding the implementation of an appropriate Sustainable Drainage Scheme (SuDS).

PTC is anxious about flooding in this area and wishes to reiterate the comment made as part of the last consultation that every consideration must be applied to these vital matters by NCC and Northumbrian Water Limited. It is a matter of great importance to residents not least due to the possibility of being unable to obtain house insurance.

Transport and Movement- Vehicle access for the new housing would be taken from access points on Ponteland Road and Rotary Way whilst access to the school and leisure campus could be taken from two access points on Callerton Lane. It is stated that a wider transport and traffic management plan would be required to be submitted alongside any planning application. We welcome the statement that all options should seek, where possible to reduce and mitigate against increased congestion through appropriate management solutions both in the vicinity of the new developments and also at key junctions in and around Ponteland.

PTC referred to the purpose of Rotary Way as a relief road which is successful and we want to reiterate that comment. The proposal would make Rotary Way an access road as well as a relief road.

It is difficult to comment on this section without any detail but clearly there will be increased congestion further up Callerton Lane from the current location of the schools. This will be exacerbated by the proximity to the four way traffic lights at the Diamond Inn and Pontelandbridge.

Landscape – It is stated that the new development proposals must recognise the current green environment and where possible existing mature planting that divides up individual site plots should be enhanced.
New planting is proposed at the vehicular access point to the housing development on Rotary Way “which will help to create an attractive frontage and screen the housing development from view”.
In addition it is proposed to create new open space as part of the housing development.
In the last consultation PTC expressed their concern about the threat to openness of the site with the belief that the proposed developments would severely compromise the current openness of the site. Those concerns are still valid and the Town Council would like to reiterate its position about preserving the character and setting of Ponteland and the residents desire to protect the Green Belt.
The Town Council still fails to comprehend how building on the Green Belt will increase open spaces.

Delivery of the Masterplan
The document states that NCC will work closely with potential ‘development’ partners in order to guide the development of proposals that accord with the principles of the indicative masterplan.

This will possibly mean further consultations on this area over the coming months/years and we note that the County Council is inviting comments on proposals which are continuing to evolve.

The Town Council like all other consultees has been given six weeks to comment on both the SPD and the further proposed major modifications to the core strategy which includes a huge major modification for Ponteland – the garden village proposal. The scale and content of the documents is difficult to absorb and given the size of the proposed development we believe that a separate SPD should have been produced on the subject of the Garden Village and additional time should have been allowed to respond.


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