Dinnington: Postcode NE13 7LQ

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Former Bay House public house (now a restaurant).
Former Bay Horse public house (pictured as a restaurant in 2015).

“Dinnington is a medium sized village, with a population of 1,636 (Census 2011) living in 720 households within the Dinnington Parish. The village has a reasonable level of services and facilities, including Dinnington Village Primary School (First School), a convenience store, doctor’s surgery, village hall, social club, church, recreation ground and a regular bus service…” EXAD49, Newcastle City Council summary – Dinnington; no longer online (listed in CSUCP library see https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/planning-and-buildings/planning-policy/core-strategy-and-urban-core-plan )

Dinnington up to 1900

According to Tyne & Wear’s archaeology officer, Jennifer Morrison, the medieval village of Dinnington was established by 1250. There were six taxpayers there in 1296 and records from 1303 show that 11 men held a house with 1.5 acres arable.  In the mid 1400s the manor was sold to the Heselrigg family, and sold again to Matthew Bell in 1763.  The Bell family of Woolsington built St Matthew’s Church (1886), replacing an earlier church, and the nineteenth-century parish school.

“In the 18th century the village consisted of two rows of dwellings, set far apart, on either side of a green, with the east end of the green by this time largely closed off and partly covered by buildings.” History of Dinnington, Site Lines, Tyne & Wear

Historian Michael Barke describes rural housing conditions in the early 1800s as very poor.  Most dwellings were single-storey and poorly constructed, families were overcrowded and tenancies at the whim of their landlords [‘Rural Housing in Early Nineteenth-Century Northumberland’, Int. Jnl. Regional & Local Studies, 2010, 6:1].  This helps to explain why few remaining ordinary dwellings from before 1850 are to be found in Dinnington.  Early Census returns show the population varying from 560 in 1801 to 819 in 1831 after which it declined to 668 in 1851 [Genuki].

St Matthew's Parish Church, Dinnington.
St Matthew’s Parish Church, Dinnington (March 2015).

 Twentieth-century residential development

Dinnington 1913 Sketch map based on OS map Northumberland sheet nLXXXV published 1921.
Dinnington 1913. Sketch map based on OS map Northumberland sheet nLXXXV published 1921.

Today Dinnington still has a recognisable village centre with a green, shop, church and a traditional pub (The Mason’s Arms).  However, Dinnington grew enormously during the twentieth century, particularly in the post-war period from 1945. On the eve of the outbreak of the First World War (1914-18), Dinnington was still basically a few streets and a scattering of other buildings.  The village largely expanded in a series of planned estates, although some incremental individual building also took place infilling the older part of the village.

Ribbon development along Main Road.
Ribbon development along Main Road – possibly inter-war council housing (March 2015).
Havannah Crescent
Havannah Crescent (March 2015).

Local authority development began in the 1920s.  An early 1950s OS map shows ribbon development took place along the main road into the village from the south and on the Havannah estate.  This estate, to the south of the church and original school, appears to be post-war housing built for rent (c.1940-60 either National Coal Board or local authority in origin).

Sycamore Avenue from the recreation ground
Sycamore Avenue from the recreation ground (March 2015).

One council estate  is the Trees Estate because each street was named after a type of tree (as found in early Garden City style developments; this estate is not on the 1954 OS map but does appear in 1961). Many of these houses have been bought under right to buy legislation and are now owner-occupied.  Some housing surrounding this appears to be later (e.g. Beech Avenue, Elm Avenue 1960-70).

Dunsley Gardens off Mitford Way.
Dunsley Gardens  off Mitford Way (March 2015).

The Mitford Way area of the village developed between 1960 and 1980 and is a typical suburban zone of private housing (detached, semis and bungalows) with private gardens and parking. West and East Acres, north of the Trees Estate, is made up of similar private housing dating from around the 1970s.

Ref: Newcastle Character Assessment Zone D (2008)

Making a living

The local economy was historically dominated by farming, quarrying and mining coal.  Early mining took the form of of bell pits; the first Dinnington colliery was operational by 1715.

In part the residential growth of Dinnington can be connected to the nationalisation of coal mining in 1947 and local investment in the mines.  A 1951 map shows local pits included East Walbottle and Prestwick.  Robert Pit shaft, shown on the 1913 OS map, closed in 1966 and was owned by East Walbottle Coal Company until taken over by the National Coal Board (1947).

The largest pit locally was Dinnington Colliery, now Brunswick village, where a deep mine was sunk in 1867 (Augusta Pit) and at its peak was said to have employed over a thousand people; it closed in February 1960. Big Waters lake, a subsidence pond created as a result of past mining activity, now adds to the ecological value of the area and provides a local wildlife reserve to visit (Northumberland Wildlife Trust).

Havannah Colliery was a smaller drift mine opened by the National Coal Board in the early 1950s and gave employment to around 450 people. It was abandoned in September 1977. The pit heaps were landscaped and form the Havannah or Three Hills picnic site and reserve. Some former colliery buildings were turned into industrial workshops.

A second residential growth spurt seems to have followed the closure of those mines as the village became a commuter dormitory for people employed in Newcastle from the 1970s.

Open cast coal mining still takes place in the vicinity. Banks’ Brenkley Lane mine opened in 2010 after the company was given permission to extract 2.3m tonnes of coal in a scheme lasting up to twelve years.  According to an article in The Chronicle the company employ around 200 in local mines adding an estimated £35m a year to the region’s economy (13 May 2014).

The future of Dinnington

The Newcastle and Gateshead One Core Strategy , a strategic planning document, set out a vision and guide to where development would be permitted, how much there should be, what land should be protected and how places should change by 2030.  This plan was approved by Newcastle Council for submission to the Secretary of State in January 2014, the plans were broadly backed by the Government planning inspector (November, 2014; final report February 2015).  The strategy was adopted by both councils at two separate meetings on March 26 2015.  The plan adds around 30,000 homes over a 15 year period, phased over time, at a rate of 1,500 per year, mostly in existing built-up areas or suburban neighbourhood or village growth areas.  Dinnington has been designated a village growth area suitable for approximately 250 additional houses.  The two sites 4815 and 4657 have been removed from the Green Belt.

Dinnington 2015 potential development (sketch map based on publicly avialbale plans).
Dinnington potential development March 2015 (sketch map based on publicly available plans).

Residents in Dinnington objected to the scale of a proposal for a ‘village growth area’ of 250 new houses on the edge of the village as described in the One Core Strategy strategic land review (289 objections in June to September 2012 alone according to a Newcastle council document).  It has been suggested the builders who took options on the sites, Persimmon and Bellway, would actually have liked to build up to 400 houses.

Dinnington Parish Council have had taken steps to produce their own neighbourhood plan; information on their website.  A neighbourhood plan cannot block development, but it can be used to influence the type, design, location and mix of new development.

The February 2015 inspector’s modifications document suggested approximately 250 houses at Dinnington would be appropriate providing planning is phased, takes into account provision for schools, archaeological assessments are done and there is a drainage strategy in place (MM39).

Prestwick Road (site 4815).
Prestwick Road (site 4815) March 2015.

Developers Bellway originally proposed to build around 80 houses at an average density of 30 dwellings per hectare at their Prestwick Road site (4815, pictured above).  They argued to the One Core government inspector that the site forms an in-fill between existing houses and the White Swan Inn, and is therefore part of the village fringe rather than being in open countryside.

Newcastle’s strategic land review identified three sites 4815, 4657 and 4814 (the latter better known locally as Donkey Field) as suitable for up to 500 new houses, but admitted this amount “could considered disproportionate for a village of 700 properties”. Therefore it was indicated that the western part of Dinnington, bordering Prestwick Road, could accommodate around 250 homes (4657 and 4815) and these areas should be removed from the Green Belt.  The council-owned Donkey Field, which was previously developed and not part of the Green Belt, was was discounted as “less accessible and subject to greater aircraft noise” than the other sites [Source: EXAD49, Newcastle City Council summary – Dinnington].

“Many local residents object to the scale of development proposed, believing that it would overwhelm the village and destroy its character. They argue that the previously-developed Donkey Field site in the heart of the village, which could provide 160 dwellings, is sufficient to meet the needs of the settlement. There is no certainty that Donkey Field will be developed, however – it has been available for many years and, because of poor ground conditions, requires subsidy. In any event, new family housing (as sought by policy NV1) would help to address the imbalance in population structure caused by a high proportion of elderly households and would better  sustain the existing facilities.” Inspector’s Report February 2015, paragraph 135 (page 34)

Donkey Field as seen from the park looking towards Main Road.
Donkey Field as seen from the recreation park looking towards Main Road (March 2015).

It therefore surprised some living locally when, on December 18th 2014, a planning application was received by Newcastle council’s planners for phase one of the site at Donkey Field to build a mixture of market sale and social rented housing [2015/0008/01/DET].  This comprised of 40 houses for sale, a two-storey block of 22 flats (described as ‘an independent living facility’), a two-storey block of four flats for  elderly people, four bungalows for elderly people and five specialist bungalows for people with dementia.  The land is owned by the city council and is being developed for the city council and Your Homes Newcastle; the developer Keepmoat Homes specialises in regeneration sites, social housing and building affordable sustainable homes.  Around 160 homes are to be built on Donkey Field, which the developers have renamed Sheraton Park.

Following the initial application, and a consultation with villagers, the parish council opted to oppose the application for Donkey Field because it would be additional to the 250 houses on former Green Belt sites and due to environmental factors (traffic issues, contamination of the land and potential Stythe gas leakage from disused mine workings).  Despite this the plans were conditionally granted in April 2015. The December 2015 parish newsletter noted development work had been delayed as a result of legal issues but these were resolved in time for a 2016 start.  The December 2016 parish newsletter reported the first houses would be occupied by March 2017 and the whole development would take four years to complete. Houses at Donkey Field, now Sheraton Park, are currently on sale for between £139,000 and £257,000 (September 2017).  As expressed on social media, some villagers were unhappy with the Donkey Field development in particular and with the scale of new housing construction in total.

“This quantity of construction is completely out of scale with the village. It will lead to a 60% increase in scale and will become a construction site for the foreseeable future.” No Build Donkey Field Facebook

Meanwhile work started on the other sites. Bellway plan to build 71 houses off Prestwick Road adjacent to the White Swan and completed drainage and roads in December 2016 (planning documents 2015/1673/01/DET). Augusta Drive is a development of two to four-bedroom houses, with gardens front and back, and off-road parking, being advertised at between £193,000 to £275,000 (September 2017).  Persimmon are to build around 200 houses to the west of Dinnington Green (originally The Crest but now Augusta Park).  The plans have gone through a number of amendments and the houses were described as ‘coming soon’ in September 2017 (planning documents 2016/0956/01/DET).  This development is to include smaller ‘affordable’ terraced and semi-detached houses, but about two-thirds will be detached houses – mostly four bedroom.

“Our location has made Dinnington very attractive to developers for controversial developments on land surrounding the village. We have objected in the strongest terms regarding the proposed housing development by Bellway, and have expressed grave doubts regarding additional traffic and the adequacies of highways and infrastructure to cope with the significant numbers of all of the new dwellings being proposed for the village in general, and we believe this will be further exacerbated by this development.” Dinnington Parish Council chairman’s report 2016

By the following year, building had begun and the annual report mentioned the increased workload this had caused parish councillors.

“We have had a very busy winter period dealing with problems arising from the house building works in the village and it has taken a great deal of our time and effort in resolving problems with mud on the roads, parking and other related issues. We will of course continue to monitor and work with the House builders to keep on top of this.” Dinnington Parish Council chairman’s report 2017

Housing has not been the only ‘threat’ to the Green Belt locally.  In summer 2015 a proposal was put forward to the city council to install a field of 16,000 solar panels on 50 acres of farm land between Dinnington Green and the airport boundary fence.  The parish council opposed this on behalf of Dinnington’s residents.

See also: Pressure on the Green Belt


Links last fully checked December 31st 2016.  StreetCheck and ward profile added May 20th 2017. Updated 18th September 2017.

One thought on “Dinnington – a village under pressure

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