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I’m just back from the latest Greenwich propaganda exercise and thought that you may be interested in some of my observations (though many are familiar to you)
The Fernhill access looks as bad as ever, and seems now to be the front runner. They do not rule out the access near the Frenchmen’s (where they still own 4 properties). Presumably opposition to Fernhill, and/or planning permission restrictions may result in that option returning.
They accept that the build rate is slow given the alternative competing sites, means that our fields will be a construction site for the next 15-20 years. The consequence of construction traffic during that period is alarming. All the greenbelt sites are coming to development together. A vast oversupply.
Development in Callerton and the Great Park will precede this site and likely prolong the construction period, given that the demand for the proposed housing is predicated on the fanciful creation of 14,000 new jobs over the next 15 years, not local or existing housing need.
With a persistent 10% unemployment rate in this region this seems “pie in the sky”. More than ever given the future competition for inward investment from Teeside and elsewhere in the region. The putative jobs are mostly in the City Centre Science Park, or retailing. Or Follingsby (near Washington) all suggesting increasing commuting traffic though our village.
The 15-20 year build timescale will have an ever worsening effect on our village as we see facilities consistently under strain. I fear a progressive feeling of things getting worse. The slow build rate will do nothing to boost the school numbers in any realistic sense in the short to medium term.
They do not yet have planning permission so it is not yet a “done deal” and although Greenwich and the Council are in cahoots and are determined to override all local concerns, a strong local campaign may yet be effective.
I would like to thank all the people who voted for me in the recent local election. I received 232 votes representing 5% of the total vote. This was a similar result to previous times and it demonstrates the continuing opposition to the destruction of our green fields.
Thank you one again for your support. The fight goes on.
You may recall that I previously mentioned that I was intending to stand in the upcoming local elections. I have now deposited my nomination papers and I will be on the ballot paper.
Here are 10 reasons why I am standing in the Local Election on May 7th 2015:
- Our Labour council, supported by Newburn Councillors wants to build on the Green Belt. I oppose that.
- The Tories and the Liberal Democrats, at the National level, legislated to allow destruction of our green belt.
- I am standing as a representative of the S.T.O.P. campaign fighting to protect green spaces.
- Only a local Independent Councillor will fight to save our wildlife and recreational spaces.
- 500 “executive” houses in Throckley will do nothing to meet local needs for starter homes and downsizing options.
- Increased traffic and overloaded services are bound to follow.
- Brownfield sites must be used first, yet the plans are to start to destroy green fields first.
- This is not a “done deal” and-it still can be stopped.
- I am active in the community helping to strengthen its bonds.
- As a retired College Lecturer I feel that I am well qualified to represent our community on all issues.
Please consider voting for me and encouraging others to do so.
Idwal John, Newburn Ward, 7th May 2015
At separate meetings on March 26th, the two Councils voted to adopt the Plan. In Newcastle the vote was 49 for and 14 against.
Newburn Labour Councillors Hilary Franks and Steve Fairlie voted in favour. The Ward’s other Councillor, Linda Wright was absent.
Points made by the Councillors proposing the approval of the Plan rested heavily on the ambitious forecasts for jobs and growth which were almost given the weight of unassailable facts.
Jeremy Beecham made a rather sarcastic comment about protestors all living on former Green belt areas themselves, implying they are hypocrites. This is a weak attack on opponents who are particularly worried about the effects on existing villages from large numbers of houses on estates which house mostly dormitory commuters.
Winding up the very short debate, one Councillor attempted to thank some of the people who have contributed to its development over the years. However it became farcical when he couldn’t remember the name of the chief instigator of the plan! That Councillor has moved away, as has another name mentioned, Harvey Emms, one of the senior Planners who has been recruited onto the post of Director for one of the planning consultancies representing developers!!
We now expect planning applications from the developers at any time soon. There are a lot of aspects still to be resolved and it is by no means over yet.
So in order to continue our campaign, Idwal is standing as an INDEPENDENT/STOP candidate in the upcoming Local election.
More to follow. Thanks for your continued support
S.T.O.P. has now had a chance to study the Inspector’s report. The following is taken from Martin Pike’s final report which is due to be ratified by Council on March 26th:
Overall, the Throckley sites would not result in loss of highly attractive countryside or high value agricultural land and would have moderate impact on the landscape.
Throckley has a good range of local facilities and services which are accessible from both sites, and there is likely to be sufficient capacity in the relatively new primary school to serve both developments. Public transport is available on both main routes through the village, enabling travel to Newcastle and other locations, and there is easy access to the strategic road network. Consequently the village is a highly sustainable location for new housing. Despite strong local objections, I do not accept that the scale of development proposed would cause undue harm to the character of the village, community identity or local amenity. The impact on wildlife would be limited and concern about flooding on the northern site would be addressed at design stage, as required by policy NV3. Thus in principle the Throckley allocations are sound.
The exact position of the road access to the Throckley North site has yet to be determined. Newcastle City Council’s preferred access is close to the A69 junction, around the brickworks east of the site, but control of all the necessary land has not been achieved. Two potential alternative accesses are from Hexham Road. The southern route past the primary school would be direct and close to the village centre, but agreement with the owner of the required land is uncertain. The western route identified by the developer would involve a circuitous new road across fields west of the site. Despite arguments that the available frontage land (following demolition of two dwellings) is not wide enough, the Council is satisfied that an access which meets its highway standards could be achieved; based on the evidence submitted, I agree. However, the western route would involve further loss of Green Belt land which, though not contrary to policy, is undesirable.
Access to Throckley North from the east is clearly preferable and should be vigorously pursued by all parties. If it is not achievable, then the direct southern access off Hexham Road should be explored and I urge the parties (including the Council) to find a solution. The western Hexham Road access is very much a last resort, though the fact that it could be delivered justifies inclusion of this allocation in the Plan.
The S.T.O.P. Campaign disagree with many of the Inspector’s conclusions.
We do not agree that 550 new houses will not spoil the village. He also does not take account of the waterworks site, scheduled for development at the latter part of the Plan period, as well as the shorter term plans for 100 dwellings (some for dementia sufferers) on the Coach Lane school site.
We do not agree that the effect on wildlife and recreational amenity will not be compromised.
We do not agree that the resulting traffic flows would be acceptable.
Of particular significance is the remaining difficulty over access. The Inspector seems, rightly in our view, against access off Hexham Rd below the Frenchmans. After all, in addition to taking up more greenbelt land, it would be lunacy to have the traffic crossing a single track country lane (Drove Road) that is already busy with horse riders, dog walkers, cyclists and other vehicles. It is lunacy to even consider building alongside Drove Road and allowing access to more pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers, etc., thus making it much more difficult for everyone to navigate. Has the Inspector even visited Drove Road?
Problems are still unresolved over the preferred access via the brickworks and the second choice on Hexham Rd cutting across the school playing field.
In our view this must be an argument to defer development of this site. There are other areas which would provide the Council with the target numbers of houses they need but without such difficulties.
One Newcastle Councillor, Anita Lower is forthright in her reservations about the huge number of houses proposed in Newcastle and Gateshead and is trying to have Eric Pickles intervene (see Journal 11th March).
Following adoption by the Council (if Councillor Lower is unsuccessful) the next step is likely to be at the Planning Application stage, which will be subject to consultation.
It is vital that we make the feelings of the community heard at that time.
A new controversy is brewing over the proposed development of the old school on coach road. Our current understanding is that 100 houses are being planned for the site. A public meeting has been called:
Wednesday 25th February in the Community Hall (back of Victoria Terr.) at 6.30 pm
You may have heard by now that following a public inquiry in Durham the Inspector’s interim report has rejected the plan to build in the green belt.
All the arguments there (on both sides) were essentially the same as those presented in the Newcastle/Gateshead One Core Strategy Public inquiry. We are of course pleased for Durham but outraged that we have not received the same outcome. Pat expressed our view in a letter to the Journal:
Things have been quiet recently as we await the Inspectors final report, due in March.
Back at the end of last year, S.T.O.P. did respond to the modifications indicated in the iterim report, but since the amendments were of no significance, we assume that our responses will be regarded likewise. There is one recent development though:
Up-to-date National figures about the size of households, and hence housing needs, are due to be produced shortly. We have reason to believe that they will indicate a reduced need for housing. So in an attempt to delay the production of the final report, we have along with other groups, written to our MP, Catherine McKinnell asking her to intervene in the matter by using Parliamentary means to hold up the report until the figures are revealed. Click HERE to read our letter.
Our colleagues in Ryton have already had a positive response from Dave Anderson their MP. He has made an approach in Parliament and the officials have given him the following reply:
Your Parliamentary Question(s) have been received.
You have sent 2 question(s) to the Table Office. This e-mail is to notify you that your Parliamentary Question(s) were received at 26 Jan 2015 07:11 PM and are being processed by the Table Office.
Ordinary Written question to: Communities and Local Government for answer on 29 Jan 2015 12:00 AM
Will the SoS delay the proposals to build on Green belt in the Blaydon constituency until after his department publishes and fully considers the results of its own delayed report on Household Projections 2012 to 2037.
Ordinary Written question to: Communities and Local Government for answer on 29 Jan 2015 12:00 AM
Will the SoS confirm that population projections that have been made in developing the Newcastle/Gateshead One Core Housing Strategy may well have been over estimated and will he delay any further work on this Strategy until such time as accurate figures are available and will he make a statement.
We are hoping for a similar response from our MP. We will keep you informed.
As you are probably aware by now, the Inspector who chaired the Public Inquiry has produced his preliminary report, and it has given the “green light” to almost all the proposed developments in Newcastle and Gateshead.
This is of course a severe disappointment to all of us who have campaigned over the last 3 years to save our Green Belt.
The Inspector did produce a list of amendments for the overall scheme and particular sites (the amendments for the two Throckley sites are copied below).
There is a period of Consultation on the amendments, open now, and closing on the 4th of January (responses must be on official forms-there are no consultation meetings).
The Umbrella organisation for all protest groups “Cities4People” met yesterday and agreed to respond to the consultation in another attempt he highlight the flaws in the proposals, although there was an acute sense of realism about the chances of success.
We expect the full report in the Spring and following adoption by the Council, applications for planning permission from developers.
This was always a “David and Goliath” scenario, but everyone involved feels we put maximum efforts into what is an unequal battle.
We will of course keep you fully informed about any future developments.
The Public Inquiry was reconvened at Gateshead Civic Centre on the 15th October. The main purpose was to allow the Inspector to confirm that the dispute between developers in relation to the Great Park had been resolved.
Both Councils and developers had agreed a position, which they presented to the Inquiry. The motivation for them was that the Inspector had indicated their dispute may prejudice the overall One Core Strategy.
From the protesters’ side including ourselves and the other groups, questioning revealed several ambiguities, including how firmly funding was in place to construct vital road links. It remains for the Inspector to consider how satisfied he is with the Council/developers joint position.
A recent planning advice from Government minister Eric Pickles seemed to suggest a more robust approach to restricting building on the green belt. The barrister representing the two Councils was strongly of the opinion that nothing substantial had changed.
The usual weasel words in the advice might suggest a change of tack, but it is up to the Inspector, and he may well be restricted to take account of the actual wording of Planning guidance.
Finally the Inspector indicated that he will most likely have his interim report ready by early November. If as is likely this contains modifications to the Councils’ Plan, there will be a further consultation period, which will be relatively short and will involve written submissions only..
We will aim to hold a meeting in November after the Inspector’s report is circulated and we all have had time to digest it.
The first two weeks looked at the bases and implications of the plan at a strategic level. Arguments concerned population statistics, economic forecasts, and traffic analyses, amongst other matters.
A comprehensive attack on the population estimates was made by 2 specialists from Cities 4 People. The Council’s expert explained their choice of base years which even to a non expert, seemed to have been selected to give the most promising outcome for the councils, i.e. a higher population projection.
The well argued case put forward by protestors is possibly our strongest hope for a reduction in scale of the proposed 30,000 additional houses. This will be one of the key points to look out for in the Inspector’s judgement.
Over economic issues, doubts were expressed by protestors about the likely prosperity in the coming years, affecting people’s ability to buy. That same week had seen the Governor of the Bank of England warn of interest rate rises, and many indicators suggest prosperity is not round the corner – the unemployment rate for our area has remained around 10% for several years. The council has ambitious targets for jobs growth but is competing with many other regions for inward investment.
The economic base for the One Core Strategy is optimistic, and when challenged, the Planners fall back on the assertion that “they can hardly plan for decline in a regional hub city like Newcastle/Gateshead” – difficult to disagree with, but as with the population forecasts, the Inspector will weigh up the quality of evidence.
A considerable amount of time was spent on traffic problems and how additional houses may affect these. A Highways Agency representative was present and the Councils’ own traffic planners. Despite strong arguments about existing and likely future congestion, their computer modelling seems always to suggest no significant problem. All developments now have to look to encourage pedestrian and cycle use, and Planners sought to suggest improvements in these travel routes would hopefully mean more journeys by these means, but the Inspector only has to drive round our hilly area with few dedicated cycle routes to see that 30,000 additional houses will create massive extra car journeys.
4th July 2014
The final day and the Inspector saw a re-run of the argument between Persimmon and Banks, with an inconclusive ending. They, like everyone else, live to fight another day.
Had battle fatigue set in? On paper the day should have been an innocuous tying up of loose ends, amendments and minor modifications to the OCS plan. As Council planners, developers and protestors gathered for the last day of a month long marathon, it was a shock when after around half an hour the Inspector was deliberating over suspending or adjourning the whole Inquiry to some future date.
This was the ongoing feud between Persimmon and Banks group, represented by Peter Jordan from Persimmon, and the Banks group’s Justin Hancock. Who would contribute to a road link the Inspector felt was needed to make Banks’ Western expansion site viable? And had implications for other areas? If the size of either site on its own did not justify a secondary school, what would happen to young people of that age?
A rehearsal of the day before’s positions did nothing to move to a solution, and at the point where the Inspector felt an adjournment was likely, the warring parties left the room to investigate if there was any common ground.
A significant debate then took place over the timing of the development proposals which may see housing start simultaneously across all earmarked sites across the Tyneside area.
3rd July 21014
This week saw the Newcastle sites under close discussion, with a range of controversial issues coming to the fore.
The three Callerton sites were on the agenda on Tuesday and this was comprehensively covered by the Journal the following day, including the fiasco over proposed access roads – sometimes called link roads, and even a bypass, characterised in the excellent Journal article as “the road to nowhere”!
Many protestors were present when Persimmon tried to bring the Salters Lane site back into the frame. Peter Jordan for Persimmon claimed that they have modified plans to accommodate wildlife and ecological issues.
Objectors reiterated concerns which had originally taken the site out of the O.C.S.
Sandy Irvine of the Green Party commented that “The Gosforth reserve is essential to the well being of Newcastle citizens”.
John Urquhart described it as “the Green lung of the City”.
1st July Throckley site specific session.
This was an exceptional day in many respects; the Inquiry room at 10am was already packed, people were standing, and around half an hour in, a young man at the back of the room was taken ill. Everyone cleared the room until paramedics came and eventually he was taken to hospital (later in the day it was reported no serious problem). The delay was around 1 hour.
This meant that the Callerton 3 site session, always going to be lengthy, was delayed and in fact discussion on aspects of these sites did not conclude until 4pm.
Newbiggin Hall came on the agenda before Throckley and though not represented by local people speaking, their Ward Councillor did a good job in presenting their concerns.
The Throckley session did not start until around 4.30pm and finished at 7pm.
Several Throckley residents had come after lunch to attend, as we anticipated this would be appropriate timing, but events interrupted that.
The Greenwich side were represented by at least 6 people including a barrister.
Once our turn came, Idwal began by outlining the various issues to be addressed, including traffic, community, recreation and flood risks. A key point we wanted to be covered was the issue of site access.
Can you help?
On Tuesday 1st July at the Public Inquiry, the S.T.O.P. Campaign is making it’s presentation to preserve the Green Belt. We will be opposed by the Council and Greenwich Hospital Trust.
A good turnout of supporters will add a lot of weight to our case.
Also, if you have anything to say about the housing proposals, this is the time to say it! The inspector to date has listened to all contributions.
We estimate that The Throckley proposals will not be reached until the afternoon session starting at 2.00pm in The Lamesley Room, Gateshead Civic Centre.
Please come and show that you care about our Greenbelt.
We hope to see you there.
Gateshead Sites – in depth examination – Tuesday 24th to Thursday 26th.
The sessions looked at a range of sites in Gateshead where housing development is proposed, including areas currently in the Green Belt.
The overall scale of the proposals became more apparent as the week went on and discussion of 500 additional houses at Crawcrook was followed by 100 or so in Highfield and 500 in Ryton. All in the Western semi-rural edge of Gateshead. In Chopwell, the scale of additional housing proposed would increase the size of the village by 50%.
One of the main issues in the discussion on Dunston Hill site was transport and the effects of massive additional traffic using the existing road infrastructure. Andy Blanchflower from the Save Dunston Hill campaign pointed out “the Park and Ride scheme identified is in an area totally surrounded by housing, unlike other examples such as Durham. Buses from this hub would hardly see an express route into central Gateshead and Newcastle without dedicated bus lanes, which are not envisaged.”
Transport difficulties in the area were again highlighted as Chopwell residents including Janet Byrne described the lengthy journeys they face if using public transport. Because of this, residents of proposed housing developments would inevitably use cars and this would add enormously to the pressure on roads. Chopwell residents pointed out that a brownfield site called Heartland had been waiting for development for many years, and the community preference would be to see that developed before any Greenfield sites.
Congestion at major junctions was highlighted when the Ryton proposals were discussed. Comments were made from protestors including Dr. Roger Snodin about the existing congestion at Blaydon roundabout.
He observed “a common sense view would predict that this congestion must get worse if more than a thousand homes are built in the Gateshead villages to the West. And that figure does not include other proposals in Northumberland such as 400 houses on the Prudhoe Hospital site. Most journeys to work will be on the current West/East road network”
A council transport planner asserted that the forecasting model used to predict how traffic would react showed that queueing at the roundabout, following proposed developments would not be significantly worse!
The STOP campaign has received another approach from the Greenwich Hospital trust repeating its offer of a meeting. This time it was by letter from the Head of Property. She suggested that there had been changes in personnel at the Trust and that she had been in post only since May 2013.
The letter was accompanied by an email version sent by their agent at Smiths Gore, the very same agent who withheld key information when we did meet with him in March 2012.
The offer was again rejected for the same reasons as previously.
It has been suggested that this sudden interest in the community, is perhaps the result of a loss in confidence of their own position. We shall see.