300 homes at paper mill site

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THREE hundred new homes and space for businesses are set to be built on the site of a former paper mill.

The Edward Thompson Paper Mill in Ocean Road, Hendon, stopped major operations in 2005.

The company brought forward plans to build the homes, plus 6,000 sq metres of commercial or industrial space on the site.

The firm said the move, which has been in the offing for a number of years, would safeguard jobs and redevelop a site which many residents in the area feel is an eyesore.

Sunderland Council has now granted outline planning permission for the proposals.

A spokesman for the company said Edward Thompson was a family firm, which had started and grown in Sunderland and employed many people in the city.

He said the plans would allow the company to continue to thrive, by making best use of the Hendon site.

The company, which was founded in 1867, manufactures a number of products including printed games for markets as far away as Vietnam and Venezuela.

The larger production buildings on the site are vacant, but a series of smaller buildings are still used for minor print operations.

The land is designated for business use only in the council’s “unitary development plan,” used as a basis for planning decisions.

But planners said that as the development would see the remaining print operation relocated to another area, it was acceptable in line with council policy.

In a report, they said: “The applicant has indicated that the majority of the application site is currently unused, and is not required in connection with the remaining printing operations on site, hence the proposed release of the land in question for residential purposes.

“The recent Employment Land Review (2009) highlights that parts of the Hendon industrial area are available for redevelopment.

“This proposal would accord with this recommendation – ie the release of land for housing – while accommodating the relocation of the Edward Thompson Paper Mill to the site to the rear of the gasholders.”

There are a number of gas storage cylinders on the western boundary of the site, including one which is Grade II-listed.

Planners said the area of land surrounding the gas holders was undevelopable, due to restrictions imposed by the Health and Safety Executive’s Blast Zones.

The developer instead proposes using it as an open public space, and a children’s play area.

Councillors on a development control committee approved the outline plans, subject to conditions.