Plans for a 17-home estate on a former Wearside school site have been given the green light by councillors.
Last year, proposals were lodged for a site off Front Street in Fence Houses, Houghton-le-Spring.
The plot was originally the home of Dubmire School before plans for a replacement primary school were approved in 2001.
Since the new school was built, the land has remained vacant, with Karbon Homes submitting a bid to redevelop the site for affordable housing.
However, a 69-signature petition from residents was lodged last year opposing the sale of the land and raising fears about the loss of green space.
This week, Sunderland City Council’s area development control sub-committee rubber-stamped the housing plans.
Vehicles will be able to access the site from Britannia Terrace, with the estate offering 10 two-bedroom and seven three-bedroom homes.
Under the plans, one parking space would also be provided for each property, along with five visitor parking bays.
Houghton ward councillor Juliana Heron said the green space served as a community hub, events space and a “safe route to school”.
Speaking against the plans on behalf of residents, she said new homes and extra traffic could worsen road safety issues in Britannia Terrace.
She told councillors: “I’m a strong believer in social housing and always have been, and I know the saying is ‘not on my doorstep’, but do you not think Houghton has enough houses?
“Over 1,000 plus houses, we have two primary schools which are full. I know it’s a small project, but 17 houses still could make a big difference.
“It’s green space that the residents really, really want to keep. It’s something we can use and have a community in Fence Houses.
“We want somewhere residents to call their home and be used.”
Planners said while the site was allocated for educational use, this has lapsed due to the replacement school being built.
Steve Jackson, of Karbon Homes, said the proposal would provide 10 homes for affordable rent and seven for ‘rent to buy’.
He added the footpath route would remain through the site, with the plans bringing “much-needed” affordable housing to the area.
At the meeting, Coun Stuart Porthouse also asked about the potential of asbestos being found in the foundations of the former school.
Developers confirmed site work would be monitored with Sunderland City Council’s building control likely to take responsibility for this.
Following discussion, councillors agreed to approve the plans, with a final decision resting with the executive director of economy and place.
This is subject to the completion of a section 106 agreement which could see the developer pay a five-figure sum to the council.
£11,968 towards new play facilities or improvement of existing play facilities.
£50,213 towards primary and/or secondary schools and special needs provision.
£8,000 for traffic regulations and double yellow lines along Station Avenue North.
£13,124 for offsite impacts in relation to ecology and biodiversity.
The plans are also subject to several conditions around noise, land contamination and construction.
Building works will be limited to 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday, 8am- 1pm on Saturday and no work on Sundays/bank holidays.
Caption: Sunderland Civic Centre
Caption: Bid for 17 homes lodged for land off Front Street in Fence Houses, Houghton-le-Spring. Pic Google Maps.
Caption: Artist Impressions of 17-home development in Houghton-le-Spring. Picture: Karbon Homes
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service