I had the chance to give evidence on Thursday at the Public Inquiry. The full speech and Q and A with the developers are too detailed to list below but here is the Journals report:
And the key points I made are set out below:
"Green Belt Purposes:
According to the NPPF, there are five stated purposes of including
land within the green belt are:
· To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
· To prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another
· To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
· To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
· To assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government made clear in parliament on 17th Sept 2012 that:
“The green belt is an important protection against urban sprawl, providing a green lung around towns and cities. The national planning policy framework delivers the coalition’s agreement to safeguard the green belt. Inappropriate development should not be approved in the green belt, and boundaries should be altered only in exceptional circumstances.”
The area of greenbelt land between Newcastle, which is encroaching ever closer to Northumberland and Ponteland / Darras Hall in Northumberland, is particularly important because this area stands as a barrier between the two areas; once it starts to go, and we lose the green belt, we would have a genuine urban sprawl with the expanding Newcastle and the built up green belt becoming the classic urban sprawl.
Lugano want to build on the green belt. They say their plan for 280 houses on 82 hectares is an exceptional development.
The only problem is that no one agrees with this assertion:
- not the County Council’s Planning Committee,
- the Neighbourhood Plan group,
- the County Council’s existing planning policies
- the County Council’s Local Plan
- or the 4300 local objectors identifies Birney Hill as such a site
And that is why I continue to maintain my strong objection. This is not an exceptional development."