CENTRAL Government will investigate plans to create a new 630-home community on Wearside, it has been announced.
In August, Esh Developments was given the go-ahead by Sunderland City Council’s planning and highways committee for its ambitious £100million proposals for the Philadelphia area in Houghton.
The firm wants to build hundreds of homes as well as a supermarket, petrol station, retail outlets and a learning and enterprise centre, creating hundreds of jobs in the process.
The company says the development will be completed by 2030 in a five-stage process, revamping the area next to a depot and former power station.
However, there were 77 individual representations against the plans and a petition with 184 signatures was handed in objecting to them.
Concerns included the increase in traffic in the area and noise.
Now, independent councillors from Houghton have written to the Department for Communities and Local Government to investigate the plans, with Conservative cabinet minister Eric Pickles ordering that a public inquiry be carried out.
Coun Colin Wakefield, who serves the Copt Hill ward, says he and people living nearby who are opposed to the plans are concerned about the fact that building work will take place on greenbelt land and also the possible negative effect they feel its existence will have on Houghton town centre.
“I think this forms part of a pattern of things that people in the area are not happy with,” said Coun Wakefield.
“The only development we seem to be having in Houghton at the minute is housing. We seem to be inundated with them and I don’t think it’s what people want.
“I also think it’s a case of developers jumping on the bandwagon a bit too.”
A planning inspector is now set to be appointed by Mr Pickles to look at the plans.
Coun Wakefield added: “We are seeing a huge number of new houses being built, or with planning permission to build, already having been granted by Sunderland City Council, many of them at the expense of local jobs. In other words, Houghton is being asset stripped when we need good homes, but to buy a new home firstly, you need a mortgage, and if you want a mortgage you need a job and we want those jobs to remain in Houghton, not moved to Sunderland.”