Estates of 'executive' homes invade the Green Belt


Despite the Government's pledge to regenerate urban brownfield sites, developments have sprung up on land which has been redesignated from Green Belt status.

To gain permission to build on such sites, councils and developers must usually apply to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

One such site is a 1,200-acre area of land dubbed Newcastle Great Park, where 2,700 "executive" houses and a business centre are under construction.

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, approved parts of the scheme in June 2000, despite objections from people who said it would damage the landscape. Nic Best, a regional policy officer for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "It is the quality of the landscape that attracts people to this region. We are killing the goose that lays the golden egg by building over our best asset."

However, the council removed the site from the Tyne and Wear Green Belt because exceptional circumstances were believed to warrant the building of a large business and housing estate outside Newcastle.

Doug Henderson, the Labour MP for Newcastle North, said the scheme would create thousands of jobs and halt the city's population drain. "If we are to tackle the problem of falling behind economically, we must build up knowledge industries to create the jobs of tomorrow."

Newcastle city council said: "The housing has efficient condensing boilers and free public transport is available for people working on the business developments for the first four years. Each property is given a £75 voucher to buy a cycle and cycle routes are being included."

- 28 December 2005

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