Fears homes could be built on former school site in Cleadon

Jeff Milburn joins fellow Cleadon Village residents protesting against plans to build more homes at Oakleigh Gardens.
Jeff Milburn joins fellow Cleadon Village residents protesting against plans to build more homes at Oakleigh Gardens.
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Anger has erupted within a South Tyneside village after greenbelt land is marked as areas of ‘potential development’ for future housing sites.

The former Oakleigh Gardens school site is one of a number of areas that could be built on as part of the South Tyneside Council’s Strategic Land Review.

The area has been a contentious issue with residents ever since the school closed in 2012 following a long battle to keep it open.

Land went onto be sold for housing much to the anger of residents. A total of 16 homes were eventually given permission to be built on the site as part of what was believed to be a £2.1m sale of the land - a figure the council refused to deny or accept due to ‘commercial confidentiality’.

This was despite, opponents who launched a campaign against the school closure claiming they were told by the council in 2010 there were no plans to sell the land and the preferred option would be to retain it for community recreational use.

Now, with the release of the Strategic Land Review which highlights the area and other green spaces in the village as ‘potential development’ sites, fears the amenities of Cleadon will be put under pressure have raised its head again - along with concerns green spaces will be lost for good.

Former Councillor for Cleadon and East Boldon Jeff Milburn said: “It first came to light the council intended to build up to 10,000 new homes to meet the borough’s housing requirements in October 2015.

“I asked where the houses would be built then as there are plenty of brownfield sites and I wanted a guarantee the greenfield areas surrounding Cleadon and East Boldon would not be touched.

“I was told a consultation period would begin after the local elections and sites surrounding Cleadon and East Boldon were involved.

“There was a consultation meeting on May 31 at All Saints Church and I spoke about the concerns people had before and the concerns they have now, but they didn’t seem like they wanted to know.

“If these sites are allocated there will be a lot of green space lost in Cleadon and East Boldon and the additional homes will end up stretching the amenities we have to breaking point. Our schools are already full to capacity and the road network will not cope with the extra traffic.

“If the council were so confident of their plans, why did they wait until after the elections to release the plans. Why not before to let people know what they are planning.

“They say this is a consultation, so if residents don’t want more houses built on green spaces when there are plenty of brownfield sites about, then they have to let their voices be heard.”

He is calling on people to look closely at the Strategic Land Review to see how it will impact on the area where they live and to let their voices be heard.

He added: “Once the land is lost to housing developers there is no going back.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We are currently consulting on the Strategic Land Review, which will help inform our new Local Plan.

“It is our draft assessment of sites across the Borough which might be the most suitable and sustainable to help meet our projected needs for housing and jobs over the next 20 years.

“No decisions have been taken at this stage. The Strategic Land Review does not allocate sites for development and the inclusion of a site in the study does not necessarily mean it will end up being allocated.

“The consultation feedback will be used to help refine site assessments and compile the council’s preferred proposed sites in our draft Local Plan.”