PLANNING: Damaging our communities

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I am writing with regard to the apparently growing disconnect between the application of planning policy and development across Northumberland and local people.

For example, in Acklington we have had two large housing developments of 22 and 17 properties recently passed, and now Northumberland Estates is seeking to build a further 19 properties in another development on agricultural land.

This is at a time when our school has been closed and as a village we have few amenities.

You can see many other villages where similar housing developments are appearing, sometimes large ones, and I am left wondering where the democratic mandate for this huge growth has come from.

I don’t remember it being policy to allow unrestricted development in small local communities. Did anyone vote for this?

While it is clear, under this Government, that planning law is heavily stacked in favour of developers and it’s hard for communities like ours to have their views heard, or even acknowledged by planning officers, you have to ask where all the jobs, school places, public transport, services, etc, will come from once all these houses are occupied? It doesn’t appear that our county council has any clue.

Given that it will benefit from increased council tax revenues to offset austerity, perhaps it is taking a short-term view.

It is my view that the way development is happening is being led by the market, with no thought of overall strategy, and as such, you have to question how this is making sustainable communities.

It is certainly leading to growing discontent in the existing population and damaging the fabric of some of our rural communities.

If we need more houses, as we keep being told, then can we properly involve local people in decision-making, include social housing (not just affordable housing – they are different things), and fit them into a sustainable plan?

David Barras,

Field House Close,

Acklington