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Giving the go-ahead for unsustainable development will harm city’s green ambitions

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Newcastle Green Party are concerned that a key planning document approved by Newcastle City Council last night will make it extremely difficult for the city to achieve its climate change ambitions or improve people’s health and quality of life. The 'Development and Allocations Plan' (DAP) is an important document that will guide future development in Newcastle until 2030, setting out locations and conditions for housing, retail, industry and employment sites.

Taymar Pitman, campaigner for Newcastle Green Party said "We are extremely worried that the adoption of this plan will lock Newcastle into unsustainable development for years to come. While some positive changes did result from our input and that of many local organisations during the examination in public, there are still many policies that will make it very difficult for the Council to meet their obligations on climate change and air quality. The government inspector pointed out weaknesses on climate change, sustainable transport, and greenspace, with the council seemingly doing the bare minimum."

The development plan earmarks land for coal mining within the city boundaries. The Green Party point to the inclusion of climate change in the list of things that should not be adversely affected by mineral extraction as one of the positive changes in the DAP. With a proposed open-cast coal mine at Dewley Hill in Newcastle under consideration, including this criterion would give the council more options to meet the target set in their Climate Emergency declaration last year. There are a number of other areas where the Greens argue there are glaring missed opportunities to build a city that makes like better for all.

"We fear that the adoption of this document by the City Council misses the chance to raise standards on the energy efficiency of future housing, leaving more people with expensive energy bills. It misses opportunities for building homes in more suitable locations, and ensuring protection for nature and biodiversity that are important for mental health too. It puts homes and jobs far apart from each other, meaning residents are stuck in long commutes instead of walking to work”, added Pitman.

A report by Transport for New Homes made clear last week that even so-called 'sustainable' new developments are trapping their residents in car-dependency.

“Newcastle Great Park is a perfect example of the kind of unsustainable development we might see, which, despite promises to be a green place to live, has very few jobs and doesn't even have a corner shop. Such developments will mean more cars on our roads, higher greenhouse gas emissions, and worse air pollution – which the council admits already kills over 300 people per year in Newcastle. People would benefit from having more ‘liveable neighbourhoods’ with jobs, shops, and recreation closer to homes, and not relying on a car for every journey will save residents a fortune.