Panic at Ponteland – Conservatives Withdraw Northumberland Core Strategy in act of ‘Monumental Stupidity’

Newcastle Chronicle  

Although this seems alarming the issue is the fall in the latest Household Projections for Northumberland, as the change was so great would be difficult to do with main modifications.

Northumberland could be at risk of a housing free-for-all after councillors withdrew a key planning document, it has been claimed.

In April, Northumberland County Council outlined plans to build 24,320 homes alongside another 2,000 at Dissington Garden Village near Ponteland by 2031.

But on Wednesday councillors voted in favour of scrapping its local plan core strategy, despite some claiming it has taken more than a decade to put in place.

The Conservatives – the largest party on the authority – claimed the housing target to meet the predicted population rise was too high and the move would protect greenbelt land.

But opposition councillors accused the Tories of playing “naked politics” and “stupidity on a monumental scale”.

Holywell Coun Bernard Pidcock, who voted against the move, said: “It’s utterly ludicrous and stupid. This will mean our planning system will be exposed to greedy developers.”

Plessey Coun Jeff Reid, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Northumberland, told the Tories: “This is a mistake. You are going to take the one and only pillar of protection from our communities.”

Council leader Peter Jackson, who put forward the motion to withdraw the core strategy, told councillors it would take only “a few months” for officers to review it.

But Stocksfield and Broomhaugh Coun Patricia Dale said: “It will take at least two years and you will have to consult again.

“There will be no policy for our planning staff in place for any plans that come in during that time.

“If the public knew that this is what they voted for then they would be horrified.”

Tory Northumberland leader Peter Jackson (Photo: newcastle chronicle)

Coun Jackson defended the motion and claimed the previous Labour administration “acted as developers’ friends” and failed to protect communities.

He added: “Residents are unhappy and communities feel threatened by developments.

“People don’t want to live in towns and villages that are going to double in size over the next 10 years.”

Councillor Jackson also claimed that the 24,000 homes target was built on “false premises”.\

He referred to a council document which said the predicted population growth in the county by 2031 was 5,152 people and not 8,097 which the target was based on.

After debating the motion, 39 councillors voted in favour of withdrawing the core strategy while 22 votes against and two abstained from the vote.

The council’s officers will now review the housing numbers before resubmitting the document to the Government.



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