COUNCIL chiefs have agreed the sale of land to a developer which aims to build 500 homes in a £100million development project.
Sunderland City Council’s cabinet decided to allow Esh Developments to buy more than six acres of land at Philadelphia for an undisclosed amount.
This is a significant investment in the area, but the question is, will any of the money from the sale be spent here?Councillor Colin Wakefield
The council said it will allow further investment in the area and allow the housing scheme to go ahead, to give the authority a financial boost through the sale, as well as business rates, council tax and income through the new houses.
The plot sold forms part of Esh’s wider plans, which include shops and the refurbishment of listed buildings which will be used as an “employment zone”.
The company has already secured the backing of other landowners to piece together its development site, with the project to take shape over a 15-year period.
Esh declined to comment in relation to the sale of the council’s land.
Cabinet secretary, Councillor Mel Speding, said after the meeting: “The council has six acres of land at Philadelphia, Houghton.
“It has been approached by Esh Developments and its plans for a major development.
“Esh has secured co-operation from other land owners and is assembling land for its £100million development.
“The council wants to secure further developments and regeneration, it wants to see new homes built and attract more people to live and work in our city.
“Proceeds from the sale would also secure a substantial capital receipt for the council.
“As we’ve now agreed at this meeting, the council is now looking to the sale and has received an external third-party valuation on ‘best consideration’.”
Councillor Colin Wakefield, independent for the Copt Hill ward, said he believes the council should have been more open about the sale.
The amount agreed will be stated as a matter of public record once it appears on the Land Registry.
Coun Wakefield said: “This is a significant investment in the area, but the question is, will any of the money from the sale be spent here?
“I think it could be spent on the Rectory in Houghton and keep it for community use.”
Coun Wakefield, and fellow independent member Sheila Ellis, who represents Houghton, have hit out at the council’s decision to put the 17th century Grade II-listed Rectory up for sale.
However, the council has defended the plans, saying the authority will retain the freehold and that a sustainable use must be found for the property, in Rectory Park, which has previously housed council offices.