Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Our Green Lungs are not for sale! Peter Jacksons statement to the Community Meeting tonight

I was stuck in the Commons - and still am at 9.15, but I hear the meeting went well tonight.
This is the draft statement that Peter Jackson gave to the meeting in Ponteland. He may have paraphrased a bit, as he was on his feet, but this was his draft he prepared.

“I would like to read out a short statement on behalf of myself as the local County Councillor, and Guy Opperman, our local MP, who has been a passionate supporter of our local community but can not be here tonight as he is required in the Houses of Parliament.
I want to stress from the outset that we are fundamentally opposed to building on our greenbelt.

The greenbelt is not some obscure planning hurdle for developers to jump - but a living breathing reminder of why so many people choose to make Ponteland their home in the first place. It is the green lungs that help us breathe. This first development here at Birney Hill - and let us not forget – it will only be the first of many if it gets the go ahead - is a clear encroachment into our precious greenbelt.
This development would open the floodgates to building on the Ponteland greenbelt and would see the beginning of the end of Ponteland and Darras Hall as we know it.

If given the go ahead, this development, built on slick PR promises of cash tomorrow would see protection for the greenbelt effectively torn up. It is not wanted by 99% of our residents. The money men and big developers would have their foot in the door if this went ahead.

We must stay united as a community and not let that happen.

Fundamentally this development is not going to be Darras Hall. Nor is it going to be like Darras Hall. It proposes a hugely increased density of housing and is simply a shot across the bows for whatever Lugano have planned next.
I am sure Lugano want us to believe that this development, which they must have already spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on - if not millions - is the sum total of their ambitions.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I'd like to remind the meeting they have already bought up another 2,500 acres of land in the area and are also acting for other landowners interested in developing their holdings in and around Ponteland and Darras Hall. This Birney Hill development is their key in the door; it would be disastrous for our greenbelt if it got the go ahead. That is why we have fought it so passionately and will continue to do so. More than 4000 local residents have raised objections. I have been a local Councillor now for many years now and been involved in more campaigns that I care to remember; and I can truly say the strength of support that Guy and I have received on the doorstep to fight these developers has been overwhelming.
As I said thousands of local residents have already submitted detailed objections, based on planning grounds, outlining why this development should be rejected. I will not repeat those arguments now as they could not be clearer. Nor do I need to tell the Committee just how valuable our greenbelt is to local people.
I want to finish by paying tribute to the local people who have come together as a community and fought for what makes our area so special.

Where other communities may have baulked at the fight, or given in, when a corporation is throwing around promises of millions, hiring a slick PR firm, and a team of expensive planning advisers...

- Our Community stood tall and refused to surrender our greenbelt simply to line the pockets of others. Lugano will need to learn that as much as they might try - Ponteland Darras Hall cannot be bought”

Well done to Alma and all the team. If you want to know more go their brilliant web site:


  1. According to the new Hexham Courant, more defence of the green belt will be needed. Prudhoe is also in the firing line. I foresee Crawcrook to Prudhoe becoming totally built up unless we are careful.

  2. Guy,
    you are misinformed - the meeting did not go at all well in my opinion,..
    NCC presided over a meeting full of inadequacies:
    residents not permitted to use microphones whilst they were afforded to NCC & Lugano meant it was harder for residents to be heard across a large hall
    NCC allowing a meeting to discuss planning process issues to be conducted in front of the applicant - surely a conflict of interest. Issues about the design of the scheme were raised but these should have been at a separate meeting
    NCC failing to be seen to be impartial - sharing a platform with Lugano gave the impression they were working with Lugano to help them get the proposal through. It looked a done deal to most there.
    Under questioning, NCC failed to provide assurance to residents that they would be protected in the event of design flaws affecting residents homes ( especially those on Edgehill fearing flooding)
    under questioning, NCC failing to adequately explain what special circumstances would lead them to release greenbelt
    under questioning, NCC failing to explain what due diligence they had done to Lugano financial stability or post scheme financial commitment.
    Under questioning, NCC failing to explain the impact brought about by the scheme on current and future school places or traffic conditions
    Failure by NCC to explain how residents would contribute to the approval of minutes of the meeting or how exactly the minutes would feed in to the decision making process
    Failure by NCC to be effectively manage objections by the airport & environment agency just 3 weeks before the meeting in Hexham on 30 October.
    In my opinion, we should register a vote of no confidence in NCC immediately & seek a postponement of the meeting of the West Area Planning Cttee on 30 October Hexham auction mart. Despite Jacksons commendable comments, you have to realise at the meeting it looked a done deal and any assistance you can give between now and 30 October should be on this basis.