Developers defend £100million plan to build new Sunderland village

Geoff Woodcock MD Esh Developments on the Philadelphioa Complex site.
Geoff Woodcock MD Esh Developments on the Philadelphioa Complex site.
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DEVELOPERS today defended ambitious plans to create a new £100million community on Wearside.

As reported in the Echo last week, Esh Developments have re-submitted proposals to build 500 homes, shops, an enterprise zone and learning centre at the Philadelphia Complex, near Houghton.

The huge project could be completed by 2030 should it get approval later this year.

However, a number of residents living nearby have spoke of their opposition, citing an increase in population and a negative effect on property prices as factors.

They also fear problems with traffic will arise with the building of a new access road.

Esh Developments managing director Geoff Woodcock today said that the new homes and jobs are part of an important regeneration plan for the Philadelphia area and will hugely benefit local people.

“The main benefits will be the preservation of the existing jobs and also the many new jobs that will be created. I think the general uplift to the area will be a big thing too.

“The complex is a dated industrial estate which, despite having some listed buildings in it which we will be preserving, is past its best in its current form.”

An earlier planning application by Esh to build more than 600 homes on the site was approved last year, but Communities Secretary Eric Pickles called a public inquiry into the development.

The latest application states that the company will not build on greenbelt land on the site and will also look to construct 100 fewer homes.

A planned 28,000 sq ft supermarket has been scaled down to 16,000 sq ft.

“The options we had were to go through a public inquiry, which could’ve taken 18 months to two years, but we decided to withdraw the application and put in a revised one,” said Mr Woodcock.

“The food store will be very much a local supermarket that’s not meant to compete with bigger shops in Washington or Houghton and I think it’ll be a great addition.”

Responding to those who have registered opposition to the scheme, Mr Woodcock added: “We’ve done three community consultation exercises on this and have seen that about 70 per cent of responses we received were positive.

“People might say “this will just be another Vaux”, but that’s why we decided to get another application in quickly because we really want to do this.

“Should we get permission like we did for the earlier application, I could see us starting work before the end of this year.”

A consultation over the plans ends on April 10 and could be heard by councillors just a few weeks later.

Details on the scheme can be viewed on the city council’s planning website.