A DEVELOPER looking to build hundreds of homes near a Northumberland village has said more families are needed to make secure the community’s long-term future.
The Banks Group wants to build 500 homes near Ponteland at Clickemin Farm amid mounting opposition from some residents opposed to green belt development.
Following a Parliamentary attack by Hexham MP Guy Opperman, the developer has said building homes in Ponteland is essential if the village wishes to have enough young families to keep it going.
Speaking to The Journal, Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group, insisted controversial green belt development was needed.
He said: “We are still in the very early stages of the design process for this development, and a planning application remains some distance away, but any scheme that we do put forward will be directly influenced by the comments and ideas we are receiving from local people, and would be created in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.
“There’s a real need to address the shortage of affordable housing in Ponteland, which would support the town’s long-term wellbeing by attracting and retaining young people and families.
“Having reviewed the options available, we believe the site we have chosen is the most appropriate location for development, as Ponteland does not have the amount of brownfield land required to address its housing needs solely through the redevelopment of such sites.
“Alongside new housing, the Ponteland Garden Village scheme would also include a range of community and environmental improvements that would be identified in partnership with local people, with the initial plans being considered including a proposal for a major upgrade of sports and leisure facilities.”
Mr Dowdall was speaking after Conservative MP Mr Opperman criticised firms wishing to build on green belt land.
The MP said he was disappointed with Banks seeking to move from being a well-thought of and environmentally- aware mining group to a firm involved in property speculation.
Mr Dowdall said the firm has acted responsibly throughout its dealings in Northumberland.
He added: “Banks is renowned within the industry for the long-standing development-with-care approach that we take to all our projects, and having worked in Northumberland for more than three decades, we fully understand the character of the area and appreciate the matters that need to be addressed as part of our Ponteland proposals.”
The Banks proposals come alongside Tyneside-based Lugano Group’s proposals for between 250 and 300 houses at Birney Hill, a green belt location south of the exclusive Darras Hall estate.
Mr Opperman also criticised Lugano in Parliament and the firm has threatened to sue him if he repeats his comments outside the House of Commons.
Alongside new housing, the scheme would also include a range of community improvements