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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ponteland homes development plans to be unveiled

Ponteland town councillor Robin Ramsey

MULTI-million-pound development plans which could see more than 1,000 new homes added to one of the region’s most affluent communities are set to be unveiled to local people soon.
Land on the edge of Ponteland and Darras Hall has been earmarked by two separate developers for projects which would potentially transform the 11,000- population community.

The project could also mean major new investment in its services and infrastructure. Government moves to release the shackles on development in the countryside are being seen as one of the main reasons why green fields surrounding the sought-after commuter town are now being targeted.
Banks Property – part of the North East-based Banks Group – is working on plans to build about 500 new homes at Clickemin Farm, to the south-east.
The company says initial proposals will be made public this summer, and claims the scheme could result in improvements to Ponteland’s sporting and leisure facilities.

At the same time, planning experts are working on behalf of the Newcastle-based Lugano Property Group, which is interested in brokering major new housing development and a wider master plan for the future of the town.
It is looking at investing in sites which are said to have the potential for up to 1,000 new homes in and around Ponteland and Darras Hall, depending on the local appetite and support for new building. Consultants acting for the company – whose chairman is Tyneside businessman and landowner Barry Moat – will hold a public engagement event next month to get early ideas on how local people see the future of the town.

This will be used to help frame detailed development proposals for housing, shopping, business and leisure.
The prospect of large-scale new housing was yesterday greeted with concern by community representatives, who say significant benefits will be required to justify such development.

Peter Jackson, one of four county councillors for Ponteland, said: “We have only had a sketchy outline of these proposals, but we think the scale of the development will have a detrimental impact on existing residents.
“The infrastructure of Ponteland, in terms of shops, leisure and other facilities, is inadequate for a community of the current size, let alone for one that is going to get even bigger. We would be talking about concreting over green fields and I can commit to leading the opposition to both of these proposals.”

Ponteland town councillor and former mayor Robin Ramsay said: “Obviously there are some big issues facing us, and we need a solution that is to the long-term benefit of the community.
“With these numbers of new houses, we are also faced with the problem of how it will impact on facilities such as schools and how it will affect the existing regeneration plans for the town centre.”

Brian Prickett, who chairs the Ponteland Community Partnership, urged as many people as possible to attend the forthcoming public events planned by Banks and Lugano.
“We have found it difficult to tie Lugano down to specifics about their proposals, but we believe they have options on land next to Darras Hall.
“We can’t just put another 500 to 1,000 houses in without having an impact on current services such as schools, doctors and dentists.”

Scott Munro, planning director at Lugano, said: “We are interested in the future needs of Ponteland and Darras Hall as sponsors and investors, not as landowners or applicants.
“There are lots of requirements and demands there and we are interested in finding out what local people want to see happen.
“The current town centre regeneration scheme has stalled, there are traffic issues and the statistics tell us there is a significant requirement for new housing in that commuter housing market.”
Mr Munro said Lugano was looking at land with the potential for “anything between 10 and 1,000 new homes”.
“One of the questions we will be asking is whether people in Ponteland and Darras Hall want to see large-scale new housing,” he added.

BANKS Property says its proposed 500-home scheme at Clickemin Farm will deliver 
a high-quality, family housing development and significant new community facilities for Ponteland.

It has begun discussions with local community leaders and says detailed proposals are currently some distance away. Outline ideas will be discussed at a public exhibition this summer.
Initial plans include a major upgrade of sports and leisure facilities, and Banks has been working with local clubs to bring forward a Ponteland Sporting Club project. The company says the housing development will address Ponteland’s need for new homes, and support the town’s long-term wellbeing by attracting and retaining young people and families.
There is also the possibility of the project providing land and accommodation for employment purposes.

Michael Shuttleworth, managing director of Banks Property, said: "Ponteland has proved itself as a fantastic and popular place to live, but the recent lack of new development and associated investment means that its supporting infrastructure is not everything it should be.
"When compared with other similar settlements, Ponteland has fewer facilities when it comes to sports and leisure provision, retail choice, community and public buildings and family housing supply. The scheme that we are developing has the potential to make a significant positive impact across all these areas.

"The involvement of local people will be central to taking the design process forward, and we will provide every possible opportunity over the coming months for all interested parties to put forward their ideas about how this scheme might be shaped."
Source: Journal Live