Government to inspect controversial growth plan.
Byline: DANIEL HOLLAND Local democracy reporter email@example.com
AN INQUIRY into a controversial new plan that will define the next 15 years of Newcastle's growth has begun.
A Government planning inspector is leading a two-week public inspection of the city council's "vital" Development and Allocations Plan (DAP) - a sprawling policy that earmarks land across the city for housing, other development, or conservation.
The DAP has come under fire from environmental campaigners protesting against Banks Mining's plans to dig an opencast mine near Throckley, as it confirms that the Dewley Hill site can be used as an "area of search for the extraction of coal".
The mining issue will be debated next week as part of a series of hearings at Newcastle University.
Further objections to the DAP have also been raised by Kentucky Fried Chicken, who will argue against the council imposing restrictions on takeaways opening near schools on Wednesday of this week.
The hearings, which run until July 11, will also include comments from Save Newcastle Wildlife and a number of housebuilders, including the Newcastle Great Park Consortium.
A council spokesperson said: "Newcastle is a growing city and it's vital we have a plan in place that balances the needs of all our residents against the backdrop of a growing population.
"The Development Allocations Plan will allocate land for housing and jobs to help us deliver the growth ambitions set out in the first part of the Local Pan, known as the Core Strategy, that was approved in 2015. It also sets out a robust framework for protecting our natural and historic environment.
"We have consulted extensively during the development of the plan throughout its various stages and all comments have been taken on board. It will now be subject to scrutiny by the planning inspectorate in public over the next fortnight to ensure it is fit for purpose. Once adopted it will replace all policies dating back to 1998 and provide a framework managing the growth of the city for the next 15 years."
When the DAP was approved for submission to the Government by the council earlier this year, campaigners complained that it had been "swept under the carpet" by councillors.
Because an earlier debate on PS20m budget cuts lasted for two and a half hours, there was no time for councillors to hold any kind of debate on the DAP at March's council meeting and a bid to delay a vote was rejected by the authority's Labour leadership.
Newcastle is a growing city and it's vital we have a plan in placeCouncil spokesperson
Protesters show their dislike for the plans