Green belt campaigners outraged over being '˜ignored' in Sunderland council's local plan consultation

Campaigners fighting proposals to build 400 homes on green belt land have slammed council bosses for being 'ignored' in a major development plan.

Sunday, 3rd June 2018, 4:58 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd June 2018, 5:02 pm

It came after Sunderland City Council’s cabinet discussed launching the final consultation on their local plan, which aims to build 13,410 homes by 2033 and boost jobs and business.

After 6,000 people had their say in a consultation last year, the draft plan was revised with the number of green belt sites decreasing from 15 to 11.

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However, one of the remaining sites – a 23.9 hectare plot in the shadow of Penshaw Monument – has provoked anger from campaigners in the area.

The Save Penshaw Greenbelt Group say potential for 400 homes, combined with nearby housing developments, would put a strain on local services.

Campaigner Claire Foster, speaking on behalf of the group after the cabinet meeting last week, said “it’s an outrage that we have been ignored.”

“Those homes will have cars and children and the council has made no plans to build more schools or facilities.

Sunderland City Council deputy leader Councillor Michael Mordey.

“There is no dispute that there is a need for housing in Britain, but where and how it is achieved is vital if a fair for all solution is to be found, we believe that building on Penshaw’s protected green belt does not achieve that.

“The detrimental effects of this build far outweigh any apparent need for housing in our immediate area, the real area that needs focusing on is our town centre and brownfields.”

Deputy council leader, Michael Mordey, speaking to cabinet, said the changes demonstrated a “listening council” and “reflected more of the opinions about what our residents want.”

This included reducing the amount of green belt land for development to 88.5 hectares – equating to three per cent of green belt land in the area.

Other changes included previously developed land being maximised for future development – with 90% in the current urban area – and housing requirement dropping from 768 to 745 per year.

But Penshaw campaigners claim the council have “not listened and responded” to community concerns, citing 800 objections and 2,000 signatures from residents.

“The green belt land at Penshaw is incredibly important,” Ms Foster added.

“It’s part of the character of our area, it’s vital to the resident’s wellbeing and mind frame, it’s integral to the feel and character of Penshaw.

“We despair where our children will school, if they will ever get a placement, doctors appointments are already difficult to get.

“The effects are monumental to the entire area and we will not be ignored any more.”

Coun Mordey added: “The city council has listened, it has taken on board all the responses and amended the plan to addresses these, where possible.

“The council is very grateful to everyone who responded and gave their views.

“In considering all the representations, the council has to look at and focus on planning matters and considerations, and not only the number of responses that have been received.

“In following national planning guidelines, the council has looked at where housing could be delivered with the least impact.”