DEVELOPMENT: Positive steps forward?
On the face of it, for Northumberland County Council to introduce a policy which gives clear information to house builders as to how much they will have to contribute to schools in the area they want to build in is a positive move.
The history of planning authorities encouraging house builders to be more aware of the challenge development can bring is a variable one.
Over the years you could name some companies that have been consistent in community development and investment, but others have been remembered for less high standards.
We will see how the county council applies the policy within its staffing structure and how it is scrutinised.
The original Blue Sky Forest proposed from the ski slope to the golf course and the new waterway was extremely ambitious.
If it could have been funded, it would have been a development of national importance, but it’s a strange move to compare the latest holiday park proposal to it, (Morpeth Herald, December 21).
I wonder if Coun Scott Dickinson has been to see people who live close to the site to find out how enthusiastic they are about the proposal and if they had been consulted by the developers or planning officers about the scheme.
Many will have lived in the area since long before the original giant ski slope idea was thought up and so will have firm ideas as to whether the present proposal is a positive step forward for their area.
When the borough councils were abolished, despite the planning the county council had done and the advance notice it had, the unitary authority still found it challenging to make the change, given the loss of experienced staff at the borough councils and the loss of local accountability through greater centralisation.
If the plan for a Mayor for the Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland area, with greater developed power, goes ahead, the challenges for people working in local government will be even greater.
It will be interesting to read the various parties’ views on how another re-structuring of local government will produce beneficial change for people north of the Tyne.