Ambitious plans unveiled for former industrial site

Part of the site in Philadelphia where the Esh Group plans to build hundreds of new homes.
Part of the site in Philadelphia where the Esh Group plans to build hundreds of new homes.
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AMBITIOUS plans have been revealed to build hundreds of homes on a former industrial site.

Esh Developments has submitted a planning application to Sunderland City Council for a proposed “mixed-use development” at Philadelphia, which covers a vast area up to New Herrington.

The plans include 630 homes, a supermarket, petrol station, retail outlets and learning and enterprise centre to boost training and education, mainly for 16 to 24-year-olds.

There would be refurbishment of listed buildings on the site, including former pit workshops and Philadelphia power station, which would become a feature piece of the new employment centre apart of the scheme.

Geoff Woodcock, managing director of Esh Developments, said: “We believe these proposals will transform this area and will bring great benefits to people who currently live and work here as well as attracting new investment and benefitting the wider community in the future.

“This site has great communications links and is really accessible for companies and homeowners who can come and set up businesses and live here.”

A planning application has now been officially submitted to Sunderland Council.

If permission was granted, work would be expected to start next year, to develop the site in five phases and finish by 2030.

However, concerns have already been raised over the proposals.

Independent Copt Hill ward Councillor Colin Wakefield said: “I am greatly concerned about the loss of industrial land there.

“I know the Esh Group have done a lot of work on this proposal, but I think it should be properly refurbished as an industrial site.

“We’ve already got houses springing up everywhere in Houghton and a lot of people can’t get a mortgage.”

A planning document, which has been drawn up as part of the application, states: “The accompanying applications propose a major and exciting new mixed use regeneration of land at Philadelphia.

“It provides new homes, jobs, improvements to listed buildings, local shops, roads, woodland planting, footpaths and cycle links.

“Taken together, the proposals enshrine the core principles of sustainable development and should be approved now without delay in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework.”

The application for change of use and refurbishment of a former power station, internal and external work to create a learning and enterprise building, and refurbishment of five listed buildings, is expected to go before the local authority’s planning committee in the coming months. The planning document adds: “The majority of the site is a vacant, semi-derelict, contaminated former industrial estate located at the heart of a residential community.

“All existing jobs at the site will be relocated, the majority retained on-site within better premises following a circa £2.5million refurbishment programme to create a new Employment Zone.

“The listed former Power Station and Annexe will also be transformed into a Learning and Enterprise building to help local people into work through teaching, training and next-step incubation workspace.

“The heritage significance of the site’s listed buildings, which are currently deteriorating and at serious risk, will be secured for the long-term.”

The development will also allow major decontamination to clean up the site.

Other environmental improvements, such as a new Green Belt boundary, woodland planting, a network of footpaths, cycle links, public transport routes and improvements to open space, will also be delivered as part of the development in Philadelphia Lane.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho

by James Johnston and David Allison