Dinnington: Postcode NE13 7LQ

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

Dinnington is now a village under pressure because it is likely that almost 350 households will have been added to the 2011 total of 720 by 2025 – an increase of 48%.  In the face of this development, parish councillors surveyed villagers views in December 2017 on what should be protected and improved as Dinnington moves forward over the next 10 to 15 years, with a view to producing an updated neighbourhood plan.

Dinnington was designated a neighbourhood area by Newcastle City Council cabinet on 18 Dec 2013.  A neighbourhood plan cannot block development, but it can be used to influence the type, design, location and mix of new development.

A village growth area – 2015

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 added 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 was designated a village growth area suitable for approximately 250 additional houses.  Two sites 4815 and 4657 were removed from the Green Belt.  The character of Dinnington was about to change once again.

Development on the Green Belt

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.

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 plans

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, a previously developed brownfield site, to build a mixture of 70 market sale and social rented homes [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 developed for the city council and Your Homes Newcastle; the developer Keepmoat Homes specialises in regeneration sites, social housing and building affordable sustainable homes.  Eventually around 160 homes will 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. 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

The December 2015 parish newsletter noted development work had been delayed at Donkey Field as a result of legal issues but these were resolved in time for a March 2016 start.  The December 2016 parish newsletter reported the whole development would take four years to complete. The affordable housing at Donkey Field was handed over to Leazes Homes and Newcastle City Council in June 2017, and the first Your Homes Newcastle tenants arrived in the summer of 2017.  These rented homes include apartments in a supported living block, five specialist bungalows for people with dementia and four bungalows for the elderly.  Houses for sale at the rebranded Sheraton Park, were priced between £139,000 and £257,000 (September 2017) and from £166,995 (March 2018). 

Augusta development on green field sites

Meanwhile work started on the other sites. Bellway aim to build 71 houses off Prestwick Road adjacent to the White Swan and had completed the drainage and roads works in December 2016 (planning documents 2015/1673/01/DET).  By the parish council meeting in December 2017 30 houses had been roofed and 10 houses were occupied. 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) and from £197,995 to £326,995 (March 2018).

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 still described as ‘coming soon’ in March 2018  (2016 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

Frustrated residents have complained to the police and elected representatives about the increase in traffic, speeding and inconsiderate parking. This has resulted from a combination of the ongoing housing development and commuters from elsewhere passing through Dinnington.

Pressure on local facilities and services

The increased population puts pressure on existing facilities and services.  Dinnington First School is to be redeveloped to double its intake into the reception year from 30 to 60 pupil places; the new facilities are likely to include some space made available for community use (Parish council minutes Sep 2017 pdf; Statutory notice pdf Oct 2017).  Plans have been submitted and the new school is expected to open in September 2019 (Newcastle council 2017/1478/01/DET).

For complex local reasons the GP surgery has had a reduced level of service since May 2017 when Woodlands Park doctors from Wideopen closed their surgery at Dinnington.  The Ponteland practice continue to offer appointments in Dinnington (Dec 2017 newsletter).

See also: Pressure on the Green Belt and Dinnington parent page

References

Links last checked 18th March 2018. Page split 17th November 2017.
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