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: