Whitburn residents have their say on plans for 7,000 new homes in South Tyneside - including over 2,600 on greenbelt sites

Whitburn residents have had their say on plans for 7,000 new homes in South Tyneside over the next two decades.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 9:35 am

The Whitburn Neighbourhood Forum (WNF) has put together a 36-page response outlining their objections to the council’s Draft Local Plan which proposes to build over 2,600 homes on greenbelt sites across the borough.

The Plan includes around 400 houses in the Whitburn village on sites including the Whitburn Lodge land and adjacent horses’ fields, land at the Charley Hurley Centre in Cleadon Lane, and on land between Wellands Lane and Lizards Lane.

But the residents’ group believes the proposed development is “politically motivated” and maintain that there is no housing shortage in the North East, according to ONS figures published in 2016 and 2018.

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Ellen Bekker, Whitburn Neighbourhood Forum treasurer, with chairman Phil Leaf.

“The council’s own figures prove there is enough brownfield land that is suitable for development in the next five years,” said a spokesperson.

“Developers don’t want to build on brownfield sites as they are undesirable compared to the greenbelt sites. Profitability appears to be the motive.”

In July 2019 South Tyneside Council declared a Climate Emergency in a bid to establish itself as a carbon neutral champion for the borough, but the Forum says the proposed development “does not demonstrate a commitment to climate change”.

They added: “Introducing over 7,000 houses in the next 20 years will have severe implications on infrastructure, green belt, landscape and biodiversity.”

Whitburn Neighbourhood Forum chairman Phil Leaf with vice chairman Steve Lavelle.

South Tyneside Council are considering the response from the forum.

A spokesperson said: “We have been in regular contact with the Whitburn Neighbourhood Forum regarding the production of both our Local Plan and their Neighbourhood Plan.

“Following consultation on the first draft of the Local Plan last summer, we are now analysing responses received including those of the Forum’s. No final decisions have been made and the feedback received during the consultation period will be used to shape the formal Publication Draft, which we will consult on later this year.

“We have a statutory obligation to meet our future housing and employment needs that means we have had to look at all options to accommodate development in our draft local plan.

“We have reviewed all of the potential land supply options and as a last resort we proposed that 19 sites are removed from the Green Belt within the Draft Plan for South Tyneside, which is less than 5% of the total. This would still leave a substantial area of Green Belt, 2,231 hectares, in the Borough. “

They also say that the new Draft Plan will contain a wider range of policies to protect the environment.

They added: “While we appreciate the Forum’s broader concerns, the new development of the Draft Plan also contains a wider range of policies which seek to: protect and enhance green infrastructure; protect trees and woodland; increase tree planting; support renewable energy, preventing development from increasing flood risk; and, to improve air quality.

“Ultimately, the plan will be submitted to the Secretary of State for a Public Examination before an independent Planning Inspector.”