CAMPAIGNERS who fear the green belt site of a major annual flower show will be earmarked for housing are to voice their worries at a public meeting tomorrow.
Their concerns come after Gateshead Council included its Central Nursery site near Whickham in an exercise to look at potential areas for housing.
The Dunston Hill site is used for the council’s annual flower show which attracts around 25,000 visitors over its weekend run.
The site is also next to the Green Flag 132-acre Watergate Forest Park, which has been reclaimed from a former colliery site .
The Save Dunston Hill Campaign has invited Gateshead Council planners, local councillors and cabinet members John McElroy and Peter Mole to the public meeting at Lobley Hill Community Centre, Scafell Gardens, tomorrow at 7pm.
Protestors have delivered 3,000 leaflets to homes in the area and have lodged a petition of more than 4,000 signatures with the council.
They fear that the site – with the Central Nursery taking up about a third of the land area under scrutiny – could accommodate up to 750 homes. Dentist and campaign committee member Stephen Morris said there were fears over the impact of any development on the wildlife of Watergate Park and the effect of extra traffic on the already congested A1 Western Bypass.
“It would be a nightmare,” said Mr Morris.
Campaign committee chairman Andy Blanchflower added: “Leisure use of the green belt has exploded. Joggers, hikers, horse riders and dog walkers treasure their nearby green lung.
“We maintain that there is more than adequate brownfield land, vacant and underused homes in Gateshead.
“People who live on Dunston and Lobley Hills can walk from their homes and soon enjoy the footpaths, copses and streams that may be lost.”
Gateshead Council strategic director of development and enterprise, Paul Dowling, said: “There is currently no certainty that any homes will be built on the Dunston Hill site. Whilst the council has moved off the site, we are looking at options for the continued use of Central Nursery for the foreseeable future, which at the moment includes Gateshead Summer Flower Show.
“We are going through a process of trying to identify land which might be used to meet demand for homes over a 15 year period.
“A report on which sites will be chosen will go before cabinet next year.”