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Monday, 15 September 2014

Planning policy must protect green belt, says town council

GREEN BELT land around Tynedale must be protected in new planning policies being drawn up by Northumberland County Council.

That was the view of Prudhoe Town Council at its latest meeting, when it looked at the authority’s proposed Core Strategy, on which consultation is ongoing.

The strategy, which will form the basis for a new Local Development Framework, considers long-term plans for everything from housing and employment to protecting important mineral reserves.

Coun. Jennifer McGee, who analysed the document on behalf of the town council, however, emphasised the need to protect prized land from excessive development.

“They talk about the distribution of new development in the Northumberland settlement,” she said.

“I propose we support sticking with the existing distribution rather than supporting Northumberland County Council’s view that the existing distribution plus targeted growth represents the most appropriate option, because my concern is that there is a risk to the green belt.”

Coun. McGee also highlighted a proposal that between 4,925 and 6,825 houses be built in the south and west of Northumberland over the next 19 years.

“My concern is that the majority of the houses would be in the larger settlements like Hexham, Prudhoe, Morpeth and Ponteland, and that’s quite a large level for those areas to take in,” she said.

“It’s the green belt that is going to get hit as developers have been trying to get in there for a long time.

“It says that a review of the green belt might be required and they are asking people to submit whatever alterations they feel might be necessary.

“I would be reluctant to do that, as I feel there’s a need to protect the green belt both around Prudhoe and Mickley.”

The council also agreed a strong focus was needed on social rented housing and that a higher target than the suggested 30 per cent affordable housing was required.

Provision of good leisure facilities was also essential, as was maintaining good transport links with the town.

Members likewise agreed with the county council’s proposal that Northumberland’s “water environment” should be looked at when new developments were considered.

Consultation on the core strategy planning has been ongoing since May and will come to an end on August 15.

It will eventually replace policies carried over from the former district and borough plans that are still used for day-to-day planning decisions.

Northumberland County Council’s executive member responsible for planning, housing and regeneration, Coun. Tom Brechany said: “We have had a very good response to the consultation so far, and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t done so to express their views now.

“We want as many residents and businesses as possible to take part in this process.

“The planning issues we are exploring are strategic ones but the options chosen will have a strong bearing on what actually happens on the ground in the towns, villages and countryside of Northumberland.

“They will decide future council policy on where development can or can’t go and how we will protect our environment.

“I urge people to take part and help shape the county’s future.”

The Core Strategy Issues and Options document is the principal document in the Northumberland Local Development Framework. It will be a statutory plan, setting out a vision and strategy for development in Northumberland over the next 15 years to address the challenges and opportunities faced.

For more information, see www.northumberland.gov.uk/corestrategy, call (01670) 623629 or email planningstrategy@northumberland.gov.uk

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