Call to arms for rural response to planning

Rural north Northumberland is being urged to have its say on the county’s development plan to avoid a ‘straitjacket for a generation’.

Northumberland County Council’s consultation on its Core Strategy Issues and Options document ends on Wednesday, August 15.

The core strategy is is the principal document in the Northumberland Local Development Framework.

It will be a statutory plan, setting out a vision and strategy for development in the county over the next 15 years.

And now a parish council chairman is urging others in north Northumberland to respond to the complex consultation so the rural areas avoid ‘being saddled with a policy which condemns them to being little more than retirement communities and commuter dormitories’.

Jonathan Radgick, of Glanton Parish Council, said: “The main point is these five different tiers of settlement and they are trying to push all the development into tier one and two (settlements with a wide range of services).

“If we don’t change it, it’s a straitjacket on development in the rural areas for a generation.

“The more people who can respond to it and say ‘hold on, this isn’t building your vision of a diverse economy with strong local communities, you are not allowing us to develop here’, the better.”

In a letter sent to Tom Brechany, executive member for planning, housing and regeneration, Mr Radgick strongly urges him ‘to look again at the strategy from the point of view of the rural areas, and to embrace development, economic diversity and empower these communities to help achieve your stated vision’.

At North Sunderland Parish Council on Monday night, members agreed to prepare a joint response with Beadnell and Bamburgh.

It was felt that a joint response from the three communities would have more impact on issues affecting all three such as second homes and the lack of affordable housing available for rent.

A meeting was set to take place last night in Beadnell to discuss their response.

Mr Radgick also criticised the document for being complicated and difficult for smaller parishes to find the time to respond properly.

“It’s not an easy consultation,” he said.

“It’s 170-odd pages with over 100 questions that they want to engage for consultation.

“To my mind, how do you really expect people to engage and respond to a document that long?

“I think they have made the consultation difficult.”

Glanton Parish Council has prepared a response to all of the questions, which they have sent to other parishes in north Northumberland to try to support them.

The consultation is online at www.northumberland.limehouse.co.uk/portal/