Figures published recently by Northumberland County Council show that the Council wants to build thousands of extra houses throughout the county, mainly by reducing the size of the Green Belt around many of the towns and villages in the rural heart of Northumberland. The latest proposals show that NCC want to build over 11,500 more houses in addition to the government’s suggested total of 12,700. That is over 90% more than the total the government reckons we need. If these plans are accepted, then Northumberland will get more than 24,000 extra houses over the next fifteen years.

Two questions:

  • First, do we need 24,000 extra houses in Northumberland?
  • Second, if we do, where are they going to be built?

We know that there is a great shortage of social and affordable housing throughout the county, but you wouldn’t know that from the hundreds of commuter and executive houses built by the volume house-builders. They have successfully reduced the percentage of social and affordable housing in all of their schemes because they know that the County Council will not stand up to them and fight for our communities. They always claim that there is no brownfield land available for them to build on, hoping that no-one will notice they’ve been buying up huge swathes of Green Belt land for years which they then say is the only land available for development.

So why is the County Council proposing that we need 11,500 houses more than the government estimates? We do not know, because NCC has been unable to justify these figures, except to claim that we need these extra houses to stimulate economic growth in the county.

We agree that Northumberland needs to expand economically, but you do not do that simply by building houses. You stimulate economic growth by encouraging business and industry to invest in the county to create the jobs that people need. The county council has got its facts the wrong way round.

Houses follow jobs. Jobs do not follow houses.

Durham County Council is only one of many local authorities that have had their strategic plans rejected by the Planning Inspectorate because they have failed to understand this basic fact of economic life. These excessive housing figures, plucked out of thin air, show that Northumberland County Council hasn’t learnt from the failures of others. It’s time they did, before their plans are also thrown onto the scrap-heap.

We believe that brownfield sites within Hexham should be developed before green field or green belt land is released to developers – these sites include several hectares at the ‘Bunker’ site on Alemouth Road, the former Workhouse site and infill sites throughout the town.

We believe that housing should predominantly be for local need proportionate to growth, not new commuter estates that will benefit the economy of urban Tyneside.

If you have a view on the above please make it known as soon as possible to your County Councillors and their officers.

To feed into the Local Plan consultation go to:

http://northumberland-consult.limehouse.co.uk/portal/planning/core_strategy/csmm

Visit http://www.savehexhamsgreenbelt.com/ for more information.