Monday, January 30, 2017

What did I just say?

Two posts in one day! But this is apposite to the last. More updates on attempts to concrete over the Green Belt from the ever hopeful and hard working Rachel Locke and John Urquhart of Save Newcastle Wildlife

By e-mail:

"Dear all,

The door of the New Year is still ajar, so there is still time to wish you a Happy New Year – Chinese style! – and to enlist your support in protecting green space in and around Newcastle.


Ponteland is currently besieged by planning applications set to further erode the green belt.

The Banks Group has its sights set on churning up more green belt with 400 houses by Rotary Way (16/04408/OUT), while Lugano’s plans for a 2,000 house ‘Dissington Garden Village’, north west of Darras Hall (16/04672/OUTES), is still being considered, despite Northumberland County Council’s failed submission to central government for backing for this proposal. Only 14 Garden Villages were announced by the government and Dissington Garden Village was NOT one of them.

Northumberland County Council has not yet finalised its local plan, which is due for public examination in Summer. To allow these applications to proceed before a consistent plan is approved would be premature and would result in disproportionate loss of green belt.  

Both applications have attracted hundreds of objections already.

To object to the Banks application please register here to make a comment:

To object to the Lugano application please register here to make a comment:

Alternatively you can object to both applications by emailing quoting the individual planning references on each email. 

Save Our Green

The Save Our Green group is urging people to support the campaign against building on the last green space on the Montagu Estate, in Kenton.

The planning committee will meet this Thursday, 2nd February, at 9.30am in Newcastle Civic Centre, where the application (2016/1703/01/DET) will be considered. Please attend if you can.

If you can’t make the meeting, it looks like you can still object to the application here

Havannah Nature Reserve

We are still awaiting the planning application for Cell A, adjacent to Havannah Nature Reserve, which could see 1,200 houses, some of them just 30 metres from the reserve. We were advised the application would be submitted before Christmas and then that it would be in last week, so it must be due imminently. In the meantime, we are still encouraging people to sign the Don’t Hem in Havannah petition

Gosforth Park Nature Reserve

We are still awaiting confirmation as to when the Persimmon application for 238 houses opposite Gosforth Park Nature Reserve (16/01304/FUL) will go before committee. It would appear that North Tyneside Council is still resolving some issues with this application. You can still comment on the application here

Thanks you for your continuing support.

 Best wishes,

Rachel Locke & John Urquhart

Save Newcastle Wildlife 

The Housing Crisis (contd.)

Much to think about in this article in today's Guardian newspaper. It must be said that the author's  point about a shortage of brownfield sites applies to the south east of England. But the point he makes about the kind of new housing that developers prefer is wasteful of land is helpful.

Read the article here.

I have seen schemes in the near Continent that provide well designed high density housing that are a new look at an old idea – the tenements of Scotland. In a 'market led' industry these would not sell as well (f at all) in many places; but stylish 'loft apartments' in trendy places do. There is much scope for imagination; or, if that is in short supply a visit to neighbourhoods in Holland, Germany and Denmark would be instructive.

Meanwhile, Newcastle strides ahead with developing its Green Belt. What's this I hear?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Looking back on 2016

I have tried to keep the bloig active despite something of a sea change in the fortunes of the open space I call 'Battlefield'.

So it was at the turn of the last century. A space to be fought for and against appalling plans. These began (as far as I was concerned; there may have been others before my time ...) with plans to build a huge car park over the running track and 'stadium', a car park to service blocks of offices to be built on the old paint factory site adjacent. When I pointed out to the city planners that there were numerous empty office blocks across the city a Council spokesperson told me these were "... the wrong sort of offices."

Nothing came of that gimcrack scheme. Next on offer were 350 assorted apartments. A housing crash put an end to those, though widespread soil contamination by heavy metal deposits were also a factor apparently ... Not that that little nugget of information presented an obstacle to the next iteration of 'What to do with the old paint factory site?' saga. Student housing, now called 'Student Village', ... city ... ghetto ... whatever.

And that's what we got. What we didn't get thankfully were the proposed playing fields (doubtless private) and embrace of one or other of the corporate education providers (formerly Universities) and their goon squad employees policing the whole area. Well, not yet.

What we did get instead though was a cycle track. I was initially appalled by this, particularly by the tree felling and prospect of dicing with death cyclists, belting along, heads down, 'Wiggins is God' types. This has not happened! A by product (just maybe) has been the recognition of the purpose of the green space as both a safe route and a, well, green space. That tree felling might be a good quid pro quo in the long run if it means no one will try to build a car park over Battlefield.

My work might be said to be done. I don't think so. Not until I see a sign like this displayed:


Meanwhile, a glance back (off site link below) to one of last autumn's 'Indian Summer' days and a stroll through another once severely blighted space, Summerhill Square, now one of this city's gems thanks to dedicated local activists. Square/

Best wishes for 2017.