PLAN: Open to the developers

I was dismayed to learn that at a recent meeting of the full Northumberland County Council approval was given to a Tory motion to remove the core strategy document.

Friday, 21st July 2017, 7:41 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 11:05 am

To many this may seem innocuous, but the core strategy governs where development can take place, and probably more importantly, where it can’t.

Removing the document means planning is now governed by plans held by the former district councils, which are now out of date and out of line with government frameworks.

This now puts communities across Northumberland at risk from speculators and developers looking to take advantage of the new lack of a policy, and will do so until such time that a new framework is adopted.

Given the last plan took 10 years to develop, this is unlikely to be quick.

It also puts Northumberland County Council at financial risk from developers who are refused planning permission and take the authority to appeal, and this makes it more likely they would win.

It is ironic that the new Tory group who promised ‘to halt the march of the developer’ has removed the county framework and put so many communities and greenbelts at risk.

But it’s sad that Bedlington’s new Independents voted with the Tory group, which I believe puts their community at risk, having been promising to put Bedlington first.

Before the strategy was withdrawn 500 homes had already been passed for Bedlington under the new administration. This move could see thousands more, without any new infrastructure or amenities in place.

Whilst seeing our community grow is important, given the developments that will hopefully continue in the town centre and a critical mass for getting a proper leisure facility, this should be done in a strategic way.

Removing the local plan has flagged every inch of green space from the west of Nedderton to the coast at Sleekburn as available for development.

Will cherished green spaces like the ‘Twenty Acres’ in Bedlington survive what was described by those in opposition as “stupidity on a monumental scale”?

Alex Wallace