Bridging the divide with the ‘One Core Strategy’

Bridges over the Tyne (2014)

One core strategy (future development plans)

Newcastle and Gateshead councils have worked together on the One Core Strategy, a strategic planning document which followed the Bridging Document (see below).   The plan set out a shared vision and guide where development is to 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 inspector’s inquiry or ‘examination hearing’ commenced in Gateshead in June 2014 and detailed documents issued online.  The interim report issued 17th November 2014 highlighted some discrepancies and new documents with modifications were submitted.  The inspector decided to support the councils’ development plans.  The final report was issued in February 2015.  (It could have been accepted, rejected or gone to a public inquiry.  The Evening Chronicle’s report on 18th November 2014 highlighted the reaction of campaigners against the developments and described it as ‘a sad day for the environment’.

“The scale of new homes, jobs and employment land are justified by the evidence. The distribution of this scale of development, including the Councils’ proposals to develop on Green Belt land, is broadly supported…”  Government inspector Martin Pike’s interim findings, November 2014

The Newcastle and Gateshead One Core 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.  Growth is to be phased over time, at a rate of 1,500 per year, and most of the new houses (21,600) built in existing built-up areas and the rest in suburban neighbourhood or village growth areas (8,400).  The majority of private sector built houses are to be family-sized homes (40% one and two-bedrooms; 60% three or more bedrooms).

“The plan, known as the One Core Strategy, will guide development in both Newcastle and Gateshead to 2030 and beyond, and includes provision for 22,000 expected new jobs.  It was one of the first joint plans to take place between two local authorities outside of London and took six years to develop.” Newcastle Chronicle, March 26 2015

By contrast, a plan to build a large number of houses around the historic city of Durham, as proposed by the county council, was not supported by a government planning inspector and described as ‘unrealistic’.

Newcastle Council One Core Strategy page

Gateshead Council Local plan pages:

Bridging document: Newcastle Gateshead 2030

Newcastle and Gateshead councils realised they needed to bring together their ‘sustainable community ambitions’ and published a joint document in 2009 to inform the planning process.  In working together the neighbouring councils seek to recognise the spatial inter-connectivity that exists across Tyneside. Housing markets and commuting catchments cover larger areas than individual local authority boundaries.  In aiming to achieve a sustainable plan, the two authorities say they seek  mixed tenure quality housing (social and owner-occupied housing), with a range of choice suited to the needs of different households, in areas connected  with good transport services.

“Successful neighbourhoods play a crucial role in supporting the function of the urban core and are essential for growth.” (Bridging Document, p22)

It stated housing development would be prioritised in ‘sustainable locations’ along major transport routes radiating out from the urban core.  Neighbourhood areas highlighted for redevelopment included Benwell, Scotswood, Walker Riverside, Felling, Newburn and Blaydon.  Rural villages would continue to offer an alternative choice for living and working, with development in and around existing built up areas and  along routes preferred.

Proposals to build on the green belt

Newcastle proposal map
Click on map to download as a pdf: Newcastle proposal map: Green areas are green belt and orange possible areas for housing development.

In the map above, the green areas show the green belt and the orange areas are proposed for residential development.  Proposals for housing on the green belt have not been welcomed by some residents locally.  The council argued it would not be possible to fulfill their aspiration to provide over 20,000 new homes without building on some green belt land.

The Newcastle West Green Belt Protection Campaign was among campaign groups who fought the plans, but the campaign was lost and large areas have effectively been removed from the Green Belt.  Around 800 houses are now expected to be built on the edge of Kingston Park and Kenton Bank Foot – a consultation took place in March 2016.  (See Kingston Park page for updates.)

“It’s hard to say what impact we had on the whole examination process. It was frustrating to raise questions which were answered unsatisfactorily or not at all, but the Inspector had a programme to stick to and didn’t allow repetitive review of the detail.  Nevertheless, the Inspector was scrupulous in allowing everyone’s voice to be heard and campaign groups certainly had their share of attention.” Entry on the Newcastle West Greenbelt Blog

In villages some residents felt the amount of housing proposed is just too large and would affect the character of the village.  For example 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. (See the separate Dinnington page for updates on development there).

“The inspector supported homes on greenfield sites at Callerton (3,000 homes), Newbiggin Hall (300), Kingston Park and Kenton Bank Foot (800), Newcastle Great Park (1,480), Dinnington (250), Throckley (550), Hazlerigg and Wide Open (500), all in Newcastle.” Newcastle Chronicle reports that the plans for new homes have been  backed by the inspector (November 18, 2014)

Neighbouring the western edge of Newcastle is a part of Northumberland where the county council is proposing to ‘delete’ large portions of the green belt in its core strategy document to 2031 order to allow urban development close to residential areas such as Ponteland (Chronicle report Nov 19, 2014).  This too has met with local opposition (Ponteland Green Belt).

Pressure on the green belt and the brown alternative

The issue of pressure on the green belt is found throughout the UK.  The National Trust argues the new 2012 planning framework makes it easier for councils to build in these green undeveloped areas while overlooking brown field alternative sites.

CPRE is raising serious concerns about whether the Government’s pledge to prevent building in the Green Belt other than in ‘exceptional circumstances’ is being implemented effectively.

Green Belt Under Siege, a research report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) published 27 March 2015, shows that more houses are planned for Green Belt land than when the UK Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was implemented in 2012.  In a recent summary report (Dec 2016) Our Green Belt: worth investing in CPRE argues green belts provide essential ecological functions (a priority habitat) and provide recreational opportunities.

Influential architect Richard Rodgers argues that the 2010s housing ‘crisis calls for new ways of planning’ to revitalise our urban areas not more ‘commuter dormitories’ around our cities.  He says building new towns only diverts investment away from complex urban brown field sites and existing centres.  He argues the biggest opportunity lies in redevelopment by adapting existing buildings and working outward from centres where there is already good access to public transport and shops.

“We do not need to repeat the mistakes of the past. Our cities industrialised earlier and more extensively than many others in Europe; and as heavy industry continues to decline, our stock of brownfield sites is replenished. These derelict sites tear apart the urban tapestry of our cities, creating threatening voids, and making local services and infrastructure, from schools to shops, unviable. Building on greenfield sites does not just waste land, but also undermines urban amenities and the communities that depend on them.”

Research published by the CPRE in March 2016 shows that brownfield sites are developed more than six months faster than greenfield sites.

Updated 17th Jan 2017.  Links on this page last checked March 27th 2016.

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