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Green belts - Newcastle Great Park

Reasons for and against
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Green belt a tract of open land consisting of farmland woodland, and open recreational areas surrounding urban areas.  They are protected by law from new building, unless the government deems it necessary to build there.
Greenfield site a term used to describe any area of land that has not been developed previously.
Brownfield site an old industrial or inner city site that is cleared for a new building development.

Building in the green belt on undeveloped green field sites is a very controversial and contentious issue.  Population growth in the UK, the trend towards smaller family units and the demand for people to live at the edge of the city has put incredible pressure on the countryside surrounding all of our major cities.  In addition, the fact that land is cheaper and often more accessible at the edge of the city has meant that Light industry (e.g. Atmel at Silverlink), High Tech Industry (e.g. Sage at Newcastle Great Park) and retail (e.g. the Metro Centre) like to locate there.  But should we be building in these areas? One such controversial scheme was developed at the Northern Edge of Newcastle upon Tyne, at Newcastle Great Park.

A study of edge of city developments Newcastle Great Park

Map showing the location of NGP relative to Newcastle

Newcastle Great Park is a major housing and commercial development that has been built on a Greenfield site (land that has never been built upon before) within the greenbelt (an area of land that is protected by law from development) of Newcastle. It is located in the north of Newcastle next to Gosforth and the government gave special permission for this development to go ahead.  There are many different interest groups who think the development should go ahead including the developers (Persimmons homes), the government and the council and some home owners. Conservationists and environmentalists, some home owners and some urban planners think the scheme is a bad idea.

Typical housing at NGP Sage, a computer software firm found in the High Tech Industry area of NGP
Above you can see typical housing at Newcastle Great Park, the housing here is expensive.  You could research the house prices here! Above is Sage, a company found in the High Tech Research Industrial area.  The plans for NGP had to include some attempts to generate employment, in 2008 only 3 companies have taken up the opportunity.

The table below outlines the arguments for and against.

Arguments for NGP

Arguments against NGP

1.      2,500 new homes in a parkland setting of 442 hectares will be complete. Useful for richer residents and generating income for the developers.

 2.     There will be 80 hectares of commercial development which could generate jobs. Already, the 50m headquarters for Newcastle computer group Sage have been completed. It is expected the software firm's 575,000 sq ft building headquarters will provide jobs for 1,500 workers within two years.

 3.     There is an integrated transport plan which will see every home not more than 400 metres from a bus stop, 27km of cycle routes in and around NGP, a discount cycle purchase scheme for residents and a car share database on the Internet.

 4.     A full time ranger will be employed to manage the country park to ensure local wildlife conservation

 5.     The development lies adjacent to the A1, which will be widened and improved, and is within easy reach of the airport, providing excellent opportunities for national and international travel.

 6.     It is hoped that the scheme will slow down the net loss of 1,500 people per year who migrate from Newcastle.

1.      The three-storey properties priced from 188,000 are well beyond the average wage of people in Newcastle.

2.     Environmentalists are concerned about the impact upon Red Squirrel (an endangered species) and deer populations which inhabit this area North of Newcastle.

3.     The NGP housing plans contradict the principles of no/little development in the Green Belt.  The greenbelt was designed to prevent urban sprawl into countryside areas which have recreation and agricultural uses.

 4.     There is space for around 20,000 high quality homes on brownfield sites near to the city centre in the East and West end of the city. These areas (e.g. Scotswood, Benwell and Byker) are in decline since the loss of the shipping industry and are in need of a boost.

5.     There is no guarantee of job creation.

 6.     Traffic volumes in Gosforth and Newcastle city centre will increase.

  1. Improving inner-city areas could slow down out migration.

Find out more

1) Look at this Estate agents website (if it doesn't work try any Newcastle estate agent);

Find the prices of 5 houses within Newcastle Great Park. 
What is the average price?
The average mortgage lender will lend 3.5 time your annual salary.  What annual salary would you need to buy a house at Newcastle Great Park?

2) Look at the maps and photographs below.
In which direction was the camera pointing in both photographs?
Compare the before and after shots of Newcastle Great Park.
In your opinion does the industrial development look as though it is progressing well?

Aerial photo of Newcastle Great Park Google Earth Image of NGP during construction Map of NGP
Aerial photograph of NGP before construction, the High tech industry area is outlined in red, the residential area is in blue. Google Earth Image of NGP, the red area marks the Industrial area, with Sage in the NW corner of that area.  The blue area shows built and nearly built housing, the yellow area is earmarked for housing development. Map of NGP, the map points North

3) Match up the key terms on Urban issues

4) Rank the stakeholders below in the order of which you think they should have a say in the future development of Newcastle Great Park.  Justify your reasons in the side box

Click here for full screen version

Read more:
BBC article on Greenbelt Pressures

Official NGP site

Newcastle City Council Site - includes contact name for more information

Newcastle Great Park residents association