Anger as hundreds of homes approved for ‘wildlife habitat’

Vicarage Close, New Silksworth, resident Audrey Polkinghorn with her petition against the proposal for building of new homes on green belt land.
Vicarage Close, New Silksworth, resident Audrey Polkinghorn with her petition against the proposal for building of new homes on green belt land.
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Angry residents have hit out after plans to build up to 250 new homes on grasslands have been given the green light.

Planning officials at Sunderland City Council agreed that the development, on land off Silksworth Lane and Silksworth Road, could go ahead - despite three separate petitions from more than 100 objectors.

“I’m am not surprised the plans have gone ahead.”

Audrey Polkinghorn

Objectors insist the project would cause a dangerous increase in traffic levels and loss of habitat for wildlife.

Concerns had also been raised over a potential flood risk, as well as more pressure being placed on services such as doctors and schools.

But planning consultants Signet, who are handling the application on behalf of Partner Construction Ltd, have said residential development on Mill Hill could boost the area’s economy while contributing to the provision of new housing in the city.

A number of residents and councillors spoke at a planning meeting held at the Civic Centre this week.

However, members voted in favour of the plans - with two voting against and one councillor abstaining.

Resident Audrey Polkinghorn, of Vicarage Close, who organised the latest petition which was signed by 100 people, was one of those who spoke out.

Afterwards she said: “In all honestly I am not surprised that the plans have gone ahead - but at least we did our bit and tried.

“Every issue we have raised, whether it be flooding, concerns over the junction or worries about the doctor’s surgery being swamped, they just seem to amend the plans and then give a reason of why it can still go ahead.

“We don’t feel as if our worries have been addressed. We feel as if this was always going to go ahead no matter what. But this may not be the last they’ve heard from us.”

Safety concerns over the site’s access from Silksworth Road was one of the main issues residents had, after being informed a roundabout on the junction of Silksworth Road and Silksworth Lane, was not viable.

Alastair Willis from Signet, speaking on behalf of the applicant, informed members that various options had been considered.

He said: “Since January we have considered various options. We have commissioned independent traffic surveys and received detailed analysis.

“Once we were satisfied with the location an independent road safety audit was carried out.”

Anthony Jukes, the council’s principal development control planner, informed the meeting that there was “not considered to be any adverse impacts that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the scheme” during a lengthy presentation.

He added: “It is considered that the development proposal is on balance acceptable and members are recommended to approve the development subject to the draft conditions.”