A POPULAR retail destination in Ponteland has been given the green light to expand its car park by more than half.

At its latest meeting, the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council approved the application for land to the north of Dobbies Garden Centre by eight votes to two.

It would see an additional 129 spaces created, in addition to the existing 216 parking bays, as well as a new picnic area and tree planting, while a car wash facility would be removed.

The area is part of the site included in the original planning permission, so it can be considered previously developed land.

However, Ponteland Town Council had objected, citing concerns about the detrimental impact on the green belt, highway safety, and ecology.

Coun. John Beynon said: “I agree with what the town council has said. In a day and age when we are trying to keep high streets going, this is a multinational on the edge of Ponteland, what studies have we done about the damage this is going to do the town centre?

“There’s not been a town in the country that has an out-of-town scheme like this that has helped the town centre.”

However, Coun. David Towns said: “We are not giving permission to a new business.We have heard about cars abandoned on the roundabout and problems with airport taxis. This might help.

“The decision we are being asked to make is not about saving the high street, it’s about a new car park.”

Coun. Richard Dodd, who represents Ponteland North, said: “It’s been there a long time, it’s highly successful and it brings people into Ponteland.

“It offers something different from the centre of Ponteland. I think it sucks people out of Newcastle into Ponteland rather than the other way round. It’s a worthwhile project.”