New port plan gets go-ahead

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A NEW industrial development to help regenerate the Port of Sunderland has been granted outline planning permission.

Jersey-based developer Dahlia Property has brought forward proposals for office, industrial, storage and distribution floorspace on land east of Prospect Row, Hendon.

Plans are in their early stages and it is not yet clear how many jobs would be created at the site, but the application includes 300 car parking spaces to serve the development.

Principal planning officer Mike Mattock said: “This is considered to be important, particularly as a first step in the regeneration of this area, and the port in particular.”

Jane Bradbury of Dahlia said the firm was keen to work with Sunderland City Council to develop the land to the best interests of both parties.

“You couldn’t have anyone who was more willing to work with you,” she told councillors at a meeting to discuss the planning application.

She added that the firm recognised any development would only reach its full potential if there was a thriving port and a sound infrastructure.

Dahlia is also in discussions with Network Rail over a train line which cuts through the land.

Ms Bradbury said granting outline planning permission would allow the company to take a more detailed look at the site and its possibilities, as well as carry out further negotiations with Network Rail.

Mr Mattock said there were concerns about the impact of the development on the surrounding area.

There are houses nearby, as well as the Grade-I listed Sunderland Parish Church, Grade-II listed Trafalgar Square Alms Houses and the Town Moor.

Houghton independent councillor Sheila Ellis pointed out there were ecological and archaeological issues to be considered.

A new wildlife habitat survey must be carried out as a condition of planning consent.

Coun Ellis said the area in question was part of Sunderland’s birthplace, and said the heritage aspect should be taken into consideration.

Mr Mattock stressed that the proposals were for outline planning permission only and any concerns could be looked at more closely when the detailed application was submitted.

Coun Ellis added: “We need to get an archaeologist and dig ditches to establish what was there while we have this opportunity.”

Washington South Labour councillor Graeme Miller said there were concerns about the impact, but it was a positive step.

He said: “All in all I think this is an important area for redevelopment and we look forward to seeing a full application in due course.”