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Neighbours take on Archbishop of Canterbury over church land housing development

Unhappy residents... news of a proposed housing development on farmland next to Markle Grove in east Rainton has not been welcomed by these residents.

Unhappy residents... news of a proposed housing development on farmland next to Markle Grove in east Rainton has not been welcomed by these residents.

A CAMPAIGNER’S fight to stop 100 homes being built on church land has gone online – and he is calling on the Archbishop of Canterbury to take action.

The Echo reported last month Durham Chapter and Croxdale Farms Limited have submitted plans to create 96 executive homes on separating land off Durham Lane in East Rainton.

Developers argue the scheme will help to increase the number of affordable homes on Wearside.

But those living nearby have slammed the proposals, saying there are already too many homes in the village, their house prices will drop if plans are approved and a popular area for dog walkers will be ruined.

Several residents have already registered objections on Sunderland City Council’s planning website, and now Markle Grove resident Robert Lamb has set up an online petition in which he directly mentions the Archbishop of Canterbury, the former Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby.

Mr Lamb, 67, who has lived in the street for 30 years with wife Kath, said: “I’ve been involved with the running of churches for a long time but sometimes things need to be put into perspective.

“The church are selling the land to pay the running costs of Durham Cathedral and I don’t think it’s the most ethical way of raising that money.

“People come from all over the world to Durham Cathedral and I don’t see why, like York Minster, they can’t charge £10 per adult.”

As well as complaining to the Archbishop, Mr Lamb has also made his feelings known to the Dean of Durham and the Bishop of Durham.

Mr Lamb added: “If the plans do go through, then I won’t set foot in Durham Cathedral again.

“East Rainton has a unique early medieval heritage dating back 1,600 years of being surrounded by agricultural fields. This counts for nothing when the powerful vested interests of the Church of England and the Coalition Government’s Trojan clause combine to pressurise the planning authority of Sunderland City Council.

“I feel this will result in a further capitulation in favour of developers, resulting in more applications to build on protected land.

“Why should the people of East Rainton and Sunderland forfeit their heritage and protected land to satisfy the cash needs of Durham Cathedral?”

The home plans are currently under consultation and set to be heard by Sunderland City Council at a meeting next month.

The petition can be found via www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dean-of-durham-cathedral-withdraw-your-planning-application-to-build-100-houses-on-this-protected-land.

 

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