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Monday, September 17, 2012

Ponteland town planning chief blasts Medburn homes plans - Today's News - News

A TOWN planning chief says a proposed executive housing scheme being recommended for the green light "blatantly flies in the face of the rules".

The proposal for 14 executive homes at Medburn, near Ponteland, Northumberland, is facing major opposition ahead of Northumberland County Council’s decision-making meeting this week.

Three years ago an application to build three houses on the site next to The Nursery was turned down – and refused again on appeal.

Ponteland Town Council planning committee chair David Butler said: “It is staggering that this application is being recommended for acceptance.

“It is bizarre – it blows my mind. My colleagues on the committee all feel like me – this is a big development which is blatantly wrong.

“It breaks all the rules in the book, in that it is greenfield development in an area of Medburn where only brownfield development is permitted. And it is not sustainable, as there is no shop or church or pub or pedestrian links in Medburn. The (county) council’s own planning officers’ report admit this – yet it is being recommended for permission. I cannot believe it.”

The town council planning committee act only as consultees to the County Council, who make planning decisions.

A report to the county’s West Area Planning Committee, who meet on Wednesday, acknowledges: “Medburn in its own right is not considered to be a sustainable location for new housing development.”

However, new national planning policies introduced in March “to an extent” have shifted the position so that new development could be considered to support services in adjacent Ponteland.

Medburn was originally built as a set of single-storey smallholdings in the recovery period after World War One. But there has been a series of executive developments in recent years. Applicants’ agents GVA of Newcastle say the development would supply a niche form of executive housing of which there is a shortage in the North East.

And they have agreed a £255,000 Section 106 contribution to finance affordable housing elsewhere in the Ponteland area, as any on the development site would “undermine the intended executive nature of the scheme”.

But Coun Butler said: “Where does that mean affordable housing would go? It certainly isn’t going to be on this site.

“What also staggers me is that the county council say there are not any other relevant planning applications or decisions – but a previous application was refused, and refused again on appeal, as recently as 2009.”

The planners’ report says: “On balance it is considered that, whilst the proposal would conflict with national, regional and local planning policy insofar as new residential development is proposed on a greenfield site in an unsustainable village, such conflicts with policy would be sufficiently outweighed by the contribution that the scheme would make to executive housing provision both locally and regionally ... and affordable housing opportunities in the surrounding area through the payment of a financial contribution in lieu of on-site units.

“The development would make significant and meaningful contributions towards addressing executive housing and affordable housing shortages in the area.”

Source: Journal Live