Local Plan proposals for main towns: Morpeth and Ponteland
There are less than two weeks left to have your say on the draft Local Plan for Northumberland.
Residents, businesses, community and voluntary groups, town and parish councils, and anyone with an interest in the future of the county are invited to have their say on the framework that will guide development up to 2036.
The public consultation closes at 5pm on Wednesday, August 15, and the plan and details on how to respond are at www.northumberland.gov.uk/localplanThere are 12 main towns designated in the document and here are the details of Morpeth and Ponteland.
The opening of the Morpeth Northern bypass facilitates access between south-east Northumberland, Morpeth and northern parts of Northumberland, opens up development opportunities to the north of the town and removes some through traffic from the ancient market town centre.
The made Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan will continue to be the main guide for future development, alongside the strategy and additional measures being brought forward through the Local Plan.
Morpeth will continue to act as a key hub for housing, employment, education, healthcare, retail, transport and tourism and will be the main focus for development to underpin its social, economic, environmental and cultural regeneration.
The neighbourhood plan defines settlement limits which means that the Local Plan does not need to do so.
The town is inset within the Green Belt. Through the Local Plan, the exact boundaries are defined to conform with the general extent defined in the former County Structure Plan (saved policy).
An inner boundary for the town is defined to include scope for this strategy period and safeguarded land for development in the years beyond 2036.
The proposed requirement for additional dwellings between April 2016 and March 2036 is around 1,700 over the plan period (85 per year).
The made Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan has determined the settlement limits for the town and, within this boundary, has allocated sites for housing, including a large area at St George’s Hospital, close to the new Northern Bypass. This means that the Local Plan does not need to allocate any additional housing land in the town.
The area around Morpeth is increasingly a focus for knowledge based and creative businesses.
The Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan allocates sufficient employment land in the town to meet identified needs, mostly in the north of the town.
There is a successful industrial estate at Coopies Lane, which will be retained as such. However, this employment area has limited land for new businesses.
The Local Plan defines the inner green-belt boundary to safeguard land south of the A196 for employment beyond the plan period.
Morpeth’s central area falls into the top level of the hierarchy of town centres, being a ‘main town – larger centre’ with a good level of retail provision along with town centre community facilities.
It is reasonably well provided for in terms of accessibility by public transport and has a good level of off-street car parking.
It acts as a community hub for a large population covering the town and its wide rural hinterland.
This role along with its vitality and viability as a centre will be protected and enhanced through policy.
The centre has experienced considerable investment and the strategy will support future such investment.
The focus for future development will mostly be towards the north of the town, related to the development of the Morpeth Northern Bypass and its junction with the A1 Trunk Road.
Notwithstanding the building of the bypass, there remains an issue of the lack of a dual carriageway on the A1 north of the town. The Local Plan supports such a scheme.
Morpeth also has a strong relationship with Cramlington and the South East Delivery Area. The Northern Bypass has improved links with this area.
Morpeth benefits from passenger services on the East Coast Main Line, but local train services are limited with limited scope for increased frequency.
The town’s connectivity may be improved through the proposed reintroduction of passenger rail services to the Northumberland Line, (formerly known as the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line), if the associated branch line from Bedlington to Morpeth via Choppington becomes part of the proposals.
Following the 2008 flood at Morpeth, a major flood alleviation scheme was implemented, involving raised flood defences and the storage of floodwater upstream.
The town adjoins a coalfield area that has been the subject of opencast proposals in recent years. Further such proposals will be determined according to two different sets of criteria, one relating to areas north and east of the town and one to areas south of the town.
A Neighbourhood Plan has been prepared and made for Ponteland, with a number of proposals within the Green Belt inset area.
It will continue to act as a key hub for housing, employment, education, healthcare, retail, transport and tourism, will be the main focus for development to underpin its social, economic, environmental and cultural regeneration.
The Local Plan will not be defining a settlement limit for the town. The Neighbourhood Plan did not define one and any boundary would coincide with the green belt inset boundary.
The town is inset within the existing green belt. This protection will continue to be paramount. The only amendments to the boundary being proposed relate to employment in the Prestwick Park and airport areas.
The proposed requirement for additional dwellings between April 2016 and March 2036 will be around 530 (27 per year). The plan does not propose new allocations as this requirement can be meet through completions and commitments on sites with permission or minded to approve applications.
Ponteland has a successful industrial estate with little additional scope for new businesses. It is one of the settlements within Northumberland, where the establishment of business ventures is relatively high.
The Local Plan seeks to build on this and provide the opportunity for strong markets to grow and deliver the plan’s job growth objective.
The Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan identified a long term aspiration to relocate businesses on the Meadowfield Industrial Estate to a site away from residential areas.
The Local Plan has sought a site or sites that could accommodate this alongside any incoming businesses and proposes a small Green Belt deletion to the west of the Airport roundabout on the A696.
Part of this land will be allocated for employment purposes with the remainder safeguarded for this use beyond the plan period. In addition, a green-belt inset is being created to accommodate the successful Prestwick Park office park and allocate an area of adjoining land for an expansion of this type of employment.
Ponteland’s centre falls into the second level of the hierarchy of town centres, being a ‘main town – smaller centre’ with good local retail provision along with a reasonable range of town-centre community facilities, serving the town itself and with a modest rural hinterland.
This role, along with its vitality and viability as a centre, will be protected and enhanced through policy.
The town’s proximity to Tyneside means that it acts in part as a location for commuters to Tyneside including a substantial ‘executive housing’ offer. In terms of the wider housing market, there is a need to ensure that this essential role of Ponteland can continue.
Ponteland’s residents obtain many of their services from Tyneside. There is scope for the service offer of the town to improve and for advantage to be taken of the entrepreneurial presence in the town and the proximity of the airport to build on the employment potential. The Local Plan supports and promotes these objectives within the constraints that exist.
The green belt has to be protected in terms of its overall purposes. Notwithstanding there are exceptional circumstances that require some small-scale deletions for employment reasons.
Ponteland adjoins a coalfield area that has been the subject of opencast proposals in recent years that lie to its east. Further such proposals will be determined according to a set of criteria in the Local Plan.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service