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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ponteland Villagers to Battle Bistro Bid - Again

VILLAGERS opposing plans for a bar and bistro next to their homes will go into battle tonight - for the third time.
Families at Ryehaugh, Ponteland, are outraged that developers have refused to accept defeat despite a planning rejection and a dismissed appeal in the last year.
They say the re-submission barely varies from the original application.
But after a new retail survey, Northumberland County Council planners are now being recommended to approve the new plan at Bell Villas, in the busy heart of Ponteland.
A decision will be made by the county's west area planning committee when it meets in Hexham this evening.
The original planning application for the premises – which have stood empty for two years – was thrown out partly because it would take away the desired proportion of retail space in Ponteland.

The appeal inspector said the bistro development would cause unacceptable harm to the viability of Ponteland village centre.
But now minor changes to the physical character of the building in the re-submission from applicant Jonathon Stokes, combined with a full retail survey demonstrating the lack of interest in the unit, have shifted the balance, according to planning officers.
"The re-submission comprehensively overcomes the earlier reasons for refusal by the area planning committee west and the reasons for dismissal by the planning inspectorate," a report to tonight's committee says.
"The re-submission also overcomes the earlier concerns that the proposal could harm the character and vibrancy of the commercial and business centre of the village."

Charlie Cross, whose home backs on to the outer wall of the former wine store and Co-op, said: "There appear to be little, if any, material change to this latest submission.
"It seems to be almost identical to the previous submission which was initially rejected by Northumberland County Council."
Villagers claim the parking and traffic problems in and around Bell Villas would be strongly aggravated.
And noise and smell from the premises would be an added problem for residents already suffering the effects of existing outlets at Bell Villas.
It is claimed that 17 food and drink outlets are now operating in Ponteland, to the detriment of retail business – a central plank of the appeal refusal last July.
Jennifer Hardy, also of Ryehaugh, said: "There is puzzlement throughout the village that this re-submission has been made. It was only in July that the planning inspector dismissed the appeal made by the applicants.
"The inspector said that not sufficient advertising had taken place in the Press to try to secure a retail business.
"Two adverts in The Journal, one in July and another around the time this application was re-submitted in September, is certainly not adequate."
"And the situation is not the same as it was a year ago, as traffic and parking problems are worse."
Ponteland Town Council has lodged a six-point objection including highway safety, planning discrepancies and neighbourhood amenity.
Hexham MP Guy Opperman backed the original objections made by local councillors Richard Dodd and Eileen Armstrong.
And Ponteland Civic Society also lodged written objections.

Source: Journal Live