PLANS to create a new £100million community on Wearside have been withdrawn, the Echo can reveal.
In August, Esh Developments was given planning permission by Sunderland City Council to build more than 600 homes – as well as a supermarket, petrol station and shops – just off Philadelphia Lane, near Houghton.
The proposals would also have seen the redevelopment of the Philadelphia Complex, including its former power station, and hundreds of jobs created.
But in November, it was announced that Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was to investigate the plans following opposition from residents and councillors concerned about the viability of the project, citing concerns that green-belt land would be built on and also problems likely to be caused by an increase in traffic.
A public inquiry into the scheme was being lined up, but now, documents released by the Planning Inspectorate reveal that Esh Developments has decided to withdraw the application.
The firm says it will be hoping to resubmit amended plans for the site within the next few weeks.
Residents living close to the site today said they were happy that the initial proposals had been shelved.
Janet Forster, who has lived in Chapel Row, just yards away from the proposed development site, for 35 years, said she was “over the moon” at the news.
“I don’t want to see building on greenbelt land,” said Mrs Forster, 53.
“There would also be problems with schools, and the traffic situation here isn’t good either.
“The whole thing would overpopulate the area.”
Independent councillor Colin Wakefield, who had spoken out against the plans, said: “This is great news for the area and I believe shows the developer did not have a strong enough case to take the issue to public inquiry, and that’s why they have decided to withdraw their application instead.
“I now think it’s time Sunderland City Council develops a local plan which reflects both the needs of local residents and their wishes and sees the site developed into an employment site for smaller businesses.
“We cannot ignore these skill-based industries and just provide call centres and software-based employment.
“We need a mix of employment opportunities, and the Philadelphia Complex provides an ideal site to house modern, well-built workshop units.”
A spokeswoman for Esh Developments said: “We confirm that, as principal agent and applicant, we have withdrawn a major application in relation to near-derelict land at Philadelphia, near Sunderland, pending making a revised submission early in the new year.
“The original proposals aimed at regenerating land on and around the Philadelphia Industrial Estate will be amended.
“The new proposals are expected to involve new homes and local shops, repairs to listed buildings and improvements to local infrastructure.”