Last week’s lead story, ‘150 homes and bypass planned for rural village’ (Northumberland Gazette, August 30) graphically highlights the concerns raised in letters the previous week that landowners will seek to exploit the absence of a county strategic plan and local development plans.
As you report, the ‘pre-application submission’ for Lesbury from Northumberland Estates refers to ‘a unique opportunity to deliver a site which can secure all of the Neighbourhood Plan’s aspirations’.
However, the updated Neighbourhood Plan for Lesbury parish is not yet published.
There is a consultation process taking place, which has had a high level of participation.
There has been agreement in the housing needs assessment that future developments should be small-scale and offer housing for younger families and bungalows for elderly people wanting more manageable accommodation in the parish.
There was a clear view that with 25 houses already being built, there should be no more than 50 additional houses over the next 15 years.
There has also been reference to the need for additional space and facilities for the primary school.
The proposal from Northumberland Estates, I believe, rather misrepresents the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.
A large-scale development on a greenfield site, plus a new road, is definitely not the sort of option local discussions have envisaged.
It appears that Northumberland Estates is attempting to present a large and intrusive development as an opportunity to provide local services and infrastructure.
In reality it would be a big money-spinner for a massive local landowner cashing in on the increase in land value from farmland to development land.
The county council must put in place a clear strategy and planning framework to ensure the needs of the local community are prioritised over private profit.