Controversial homes plan approved for former army camp

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VILLAGERS have lost their fight against plans to build a luxury housing development at a former Ministry of Defence site in South Tyneside.

The borough council’s planning committee yesterday gave the go-ahead for 42 homes to take the place of the old Whitburn Army camp in Mill Lane.

That approval came despite opposition from neighbours over concerns at encroachment on green-belt land, the removal of trees, additional traffic congestion and pressure on school places.

The developer behind the plans, Sunderland-based Bett Homes, had previously submitted an application for 48 houses, but it was rejected by the planning committee.

Its new application was designed to address the concerns that led to its predecessor’s rejection, including uncertainty about the disposal of surface water.

The houses to be built will have two to five bedrooms.

After the meeting, one of the objectors, Alan Kynoch, of Marina Terrace, Whitburn, said: “I felt this was a done deal, and so it proved.

“This decision really does not take proper account of the impact this will have on the green belt.

“We have voiced our opinion, and it has been ignored.

“We fought and fought and couldn’t have done more.”

Approval came after Coun Mark Walsh, of Horsley Hill in South Shields, proposed the development’s approval, saying tha he was “satisfied with the plans”.

That was not a view shared by Whitburn councillor Sylvia Spraggon.

She said: “Whitburn is one of the few villages remaining on the North-East coast. It is the duty of the residents of Whitburn and also South Tyneside Council to preserve its heritage for future generations.

“This development is completely out of synch with the surrounding area. This development will stand out like a sore thumb. I can’t think of any other description.”

Coun Jeff Milburn, of Cleadon and East Boldon, added: “Whitburn Village is 800 years old. I believe that this particular development is just massively overstated.

“We have problems with traffic and problems with finding education places for children.

“There are very good schools, but the schools are full.

“The people in Augusta Terrace will have detached houses in front of them, and they will not be able to see the sea. The people who live there moved there because they had a nice outlook. Now, this is being taken away from them.”

Another opponent, Dr John Warren, of Augusta Terrace, told the committee: “This clearly impacts on the openness of the site because at the moment there is one two-storey house there, and this proposal is for 42 two-storey houses.

“This would clearly have an impact on the local green belt, and it would clearly impact on openness.

“Our major concern is, who is this aimed at? The impact of all these dwellings would be considerable, and we would argue there is no need for the provision of this type of housing within Whitburn.

“Data shows that a majority of households include people over 54.

“It is clear the type of housing that Whitburn needs is housing for older people.”