Controversial plans for Sunderland eco homes given green light

Pictured at a proposed new housing development in Humbledon Hill, Sunderland are l-r Ryan Dempster of Northumbria University, Alan Marsden, Joe Warner of Northumbria University, Prof Paul Jones Professor of Architecture, Northumbria University and land owner Richard Marsden.

Pictured at a proposed new housing development in Humbledon Hill, Sunderland are l-r Ryan Dempster of Northumbria University, Alan Marsden, Joe Warner of Northumbria University, Prof Paul Jones Professor of Architecture, Northumbria University and land owner Richard Marsden.

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A controversial eco-friendly housing scheme on the edge of a Bronze Age site in Sunderland has been given the go-ahead by city planning chiefs.

Sunderland-born Richard Marsden is behind the proposed development of a site on Humbledon Hill, which was the subject of a social media protest campaign by residents living nearby.

“Previous developers have tried several times before to develop the hill – I am very surprised we are here again today.”

Steve Thompson

A meeting of the city council’s development control (south Sunderland) sub-committee approved the scheme – now reduced from 13 to eight homes – subject to a raft of almost 30 conditions.

The meeting heard more than 100 letters of objection to the scheme had been received, as well as four petitions containing almost 1,200 names in total.

Construction of a reservoir in 1873 uncovered a Bronze Age burial site, and later surveys found the remains of a defended settlement, as a result of which the site was officially Scheduled by English Heritage in 2011.

Objector Steve Thompson told the meeting residents were concerned about the scheme’s impact on ‘a well-known and loved local landmark’.

Past attempts to develop the hill had been rejected and he hoped the latest one would be too.

“Previous developers have tried several times before to develop the hill – I am very surprised we are here again today,” he said.

“That was the reason the monument was given scheduled status in the first place. This site is important for many reasons, and there are not many sites like it in Sunderland.”

Residents believed the scheme as proposed would impinge on the Scheduled Monument site, but county archaeological officer Jennifer Morrison said a new survey showed the remains were actually around two metres away from where they were shown on a 2003 survey.

English Heritage believed the project would not ‘significantly impact’ on the Scheduled Monument.

The scheme was approved unanimously, subject to conditions covering a range of measures to protect the environment, wildlife and working on site.