Eco home plan near grade-II Cleadon listed building rejected

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Plans for an underground eco home near an historic South Tyneside building have been rejected because of fears for the Green Belt.

Architect Craig Fitzakerly originally applied to South Tyneside Council to build  a family home into hillside in the grounds of the grade-II listed Undercliff House, in Cleadon.

Architect Craig Fitzakerly and wife Caroline in the grounds at Undercliff

Architect Craig Fitzakerly and wife Caroline in the grounds at Undercliff

His vision included an underground car park and ‘living roof’ blending into grassland alongside restoring the historic gardens to their former glory.

However, the plans for the former stable site were withdrawn in 2016 after requests for more information.

Councillors have now rejected updated plans for the site over concerns the home would impact green belt land and the wider heritage site.

In a consultation, 135 comments were lodged in support of the application stating the site would be used in a“sensitive manner”, boost property values and improve the area.

Undercliff, in Cleadon Lane, Cleadon

Undercliff, in Cleadon Lane, Cleadon

However, 86 objectors raised concerns ranging from design, noise disruption and light pollution.

Objector and neighbour Joel Price said there was “no requirement” for the property on the land.

He claimed evidence provided by the applicant was misleading, argued the plans would affect heritage and ecology and suggested that the site could be turned into a “stunning meadow” instead.

But former Cleadon and East Boldon councillor, Margaret Meling, speaking in support, said plans would help “put South Tyneside on the architectural map”.

She added the wider scheme would help restore the site and boost biodiversity.

Managing director of Fitz Architects, Mr Fitzakerly, bought the site four years ago and proposed restoring woodland walks and the Undercliff pond to replacing an existing sewer on site.

He told the planning committee: “Given the massive improvements which are backed up by consultee responses and national and local planning policy compliance, we can’t understand why the officer has come to these recommendations.

“This proposal is a one-off opportunity in our life time to rectify the problems caused by 40 years of equestrian use, to restore the historic gardens and enhance the natural habitat to allow wildlife to flourish.

“We would like nothing more than to restore this special place that we own and create a family home and conserve the gardens for future generations”.

Coun Geraldine Kilgour praised the design of the building but said she could not support the application due its green belt location.

“It’s cleverly designed to be built into the land and it would appear it addresses all of the problems but we can’t condition those problems,” she said.

The new plans are the sixth application for homes on Undercliff House land since 1968 with all previous bids – including two appeals – being rejected.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service