Residents hit out at plans for market square in Ponteland

Controversial plans to create a Victorian-style market square complete with food and drink offerings have been met with stiff opposition by local residents.

By James Robinson
Thursday, 31st March 2022, 1:13 pm
Rialto plans to create The Orchard in a major expansion plan.
Rialto plans to create The Orchard in a major expansion plan.

Rialto in Ponteland submitted plans for The Orchard, a large outdoor expansion for the Italian restaurant in January.

The development, which would have space for 350 people, would be created on an unused plot of land that currently acts as an overspill car park for properties on Main Road.

Since the plans were put forward, a total of 113 objections have been submitted on Northumberland County Council’s planning portal, compared to just one supporting comment.

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Residents have raised concerns about a variety of issues including a lack of parking, noise concerns and a negative impact on the character of the town.

Objector Gaye Templeton, who lives in Darras Hall, wrote: “The site is very close to the River Pont making drowning an issue for patrons during periods of heavy rainfall. Noise and disturbance of the peace to local residents would not be contained by suggested barrier wall.

“There is insufficient access to the site for evacuation purposes in the event of an emergency. Highway access for emergency vehicles, taxis, refuse collections etc is poor being a single carriageway entrance onto main A696 mini roundabout which is completely blind from the left side.

“The Market Square term used is misleading. The proposed development consists of outdoor eating and drinking, there would be no exchange of market goods for sale.”

Heather Thomas wrote: “There is inadequate car parking, which will lead to cars parking in residential streets. It will impact significantly on residential properties.

“Music from the site is likely to be heard across Ponteland, substantially impacting on residential properties.”

It comes after the licensing team at Northumberland County Council spent a day-and-a-half hearing arguments for and against the application for the outdoor expansion towards the end of 2021.

Rialto had originally sought permission for live music and alcohol sales at the new outdoor area until midnight, seven days a week, but after the scheme drew more than 100 complaints from members of the public the application was amended, dropping the request for permission to stage live music and agreeing to limit capacity in the outdoor area to 350.

The company has submitted 21 documents, detailing plans for everything from lighting, handrails and the roof to seating plans, as well as CGIs by Collaborative design and GW Architectural to show how The Orchard would look.

A design and access statement outlines how it would be made up of market stalls, retail units and food vendors, spaced out over around 13,000 sq ft.

A 30 page noise assessment found that “patron noise from all seating and standing areas being fully occupied is likely to result in a negligible impact,” while a design and access statement sets out how parking and traffic will be managed.

No date has been set for the application to go before councillors.