Campaigners fight plans for green belt housing

Residents opposed to Hellens' plan to build new homes in Springwell Village, Washington
Residents opposed to Hellens' plan to build new homes in Springwell Village, Washington
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ANGRY residents from a Wearside community say they will fiercely fight plans to build new homes on their doorstep.

Developer Hellens Group wants to create houses in Springwell Village, Washington, close to the busy A194 road.

The company has acquired the 30-acre green belt land, on which horses graze, and is expected to submit a formal application to Sunderland City Council later this year.

The move could also include the potential relocation of the village’s primary school.

But members of Springwell Village Residents’ Association say they have gathered a 900-signature petition to oppose the development.

“We’re concerned because the area where Hellens want to build is with the border of Gateshead so, in effect, we will become part of the urban sprawl of that town,” said Angela Templeman, chairman of the residents’ group, who has lived in Springwell Village for more than a quarter of a century.

“We appreciate that everybody wants a good view and we’ve always wanted to protect the green belt land in our village, which we’ll never get back if these homes are built.

“We take comfort that this land is officially green belt and, as such, has some protection – but that may change as Sunderland reviews the Local Plan – that is very important as it dictates land use in the future.

“The first thing we have to do is persuade the council to retain the green belt status and secondly do everything we can to resist any planning applications that are made to build on it.”

The residents’ group has held meetings about how it plans to fight the proposals and has handed over the petition to deputy leader of the council and Washington councillor Harry Trueman.

Liz Reid, another villager who is supporting the campaign, said: “The overwhelming majority of us just want our lives to stay the same.

“We have already embraced new housing development and welcome new people – but if the green belt goes then Springwell will no longer be a village and we feel we will no longer be able to sustain the strong community spirit we thrive on today.”

Hellens Group says it acquired land in Springwell Village in May 2014 and bosses say they have discussed their land interest in the village with Springwell Village Residents’ Association as well as Sunderland City Council.

Gavin Cordwell‐Smith, chief executive of Hellens Group, said: “We do recognise that the land is designated as green belt – the green belt around Springwell Village creates a tightly constrained boundary and leaves no room for growth within the village.

“We feel that without further growth in Springwell Village, shops, services and the school could become unsustainable.

“We feel there is an opportunity to improve the sustainability of the Village by providing housing in particular for those who are currently unable to get on the housing ladder.

“It is our intention in the coming months to hold a public consultation event within the village to obtain feedback from the local community.

“We want to work in with the local community and gather their opinions on what they would like to see in the village – consultation within communities like Springwell is very important to us.

“Teal Farm in Washington is a prime example of Hellens’ track record – having delivered employment opportunities, a village centre and much needed housing within the locality.”

“We have worked very closely with the Teal Farm Residents’ Association who have been instrumental in the shaping of the development in this location.”