New schools and leisure centre approved for Ponteland

Brand new schools and a leisure centre are set to be built on the site of the current Ponteland Leisure Centre after being given the green light by planners.
The council’s strategic planning committee was minded to approve plans to build a new leisure centre, library and primary and secondary school - part of a £57million investment by the council in education and leisure for Ponteland.
Outline planning permission was also minded to be approved for an exemplar Garden Village on land north and west of Darras Hall, and for 400 new homes on land west of Cheviot View.
The proposed Garden Village, on land owned by The Dissington Estate, has been the subject of an ‘expression of interest’ to central government supported by the council.  
The application for outline permission is for up to 2,000 homes with associated local services, facilities and infrastructure provision.  
While physically separate from Ponteland, the proposed development will also deliver ‘significant benefits’ to the town including more than 500 affordable homes and contributions to a number of other improvements and facilities for the area.
While not part of the current application it is envisaged that the development would also facilitate a Ponteland Relief Road and enhanced community transport and infrastructure 
As part of its planning permission the housing scheme by Banks Property near Cheviot View is set to make financial contributions to construction of the new schools and leisure centre; affordable housing in the area; town centre junctions on the A696 and improvements in the drainage system.
Welcoming the strategic planning committees decisions Cllr Grant Davey, leader of council, said that they would have long-term benefits for the Ponteland area, and the county as a whole.
He said:  “The investment in schools and leisure is part of a wider reorganisation of schools in the Ponteland Partnership - with an application also being considered for a new Darras Hall Primary School and further proposed investment to extend the age ranges of other first schools in the partnership
“We want every child in Northumberland to have the best possible educational opportunities in the best possible learning environments, and this investment in schools in this partnership will do just that.
“The scheme will see state of the art facilities developed and new buildings constructed for a Ponteland Secondary School and Ponteland Primary school on a shared site, along with community leisure facilities.
“The Garden Village will significantly benefit the county, provide a much-needed economic boost to the region and delivering hundreds of affordable homes.”
“We fully understand people’s concerns about the Green Belt, but we must stress that through the core strategy we are protecting more than 99% of Green Belt in Northumberland, and only suggesting that it should be used in exceptional circumstances such as these.
“As a council we are committed to ensuring a vibrant and viable county for the future - bringing thousands of new jobs - and with them the need for new houses of all types, and local services to support our residents.
“The North East England Chamber of Commerce believes high quality housing is a vital element in ensuring the region’s businesses are able to attract and retain the skilled workforces they need to succeed.
“Their members have called for more houses of all sizes to be built the region, as a mix of housing is needed to support local facilities and promote the region to those just embarking on their careers, as well as those who are more established.
“The government is encouraging councils to think differently in these difficult economic times and future generations of local families will have access to good quality housing, schools and leisure facilities as a result of these decisions today.”
The planning applications will now be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit which will either confirm the council’s decisions, or pass them to the Secretary of State to make a decision.
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