A parcel of land by a Wearside church is set to win protected status as a ‘village green’.
In 2017, plans were lodged to build six homes on green space near Fulwell Methodist Church – a site thought to be solely council-owned land.
However, the plans were knocked back as an ‘invalid application’ after it was revealed the church owned a small section of the site.
At the time, several objections were lodged with the council over fears the green space could be lost.
And the same year, campaign group Save Dovedale Road Greenspace lodged a village green bid for the land, which they argued was treasured by the local community.
Under planning rules, village green applications must be dealt with before any other planning application.
As a result, a revised application for the housing plans was effectively blocked from being resubmitted.
Nearly two years later, Sunderland City Council are set to approve the village green status which will protect the land for future generations.
This follows the recommendation of an independent planning inspector who was asked to look at evidence on the case.
After a detailed investigation, her report concluded the application passed all planning tests – including a “significant number” of Fulwell residents using the site for “lawful sports and pasttimes” between 2007 and 2017.
Government guidelines define town and village greens as areas used for sports and recreation such as dog walking.
Once registered, it is deemed to be a public nuisance and an offence to interfere with, disturb or build on a green.
However, this can be overruled if it is done “with a view to the better enjoyment of such town or village green”.
Save Dovedale Road Green Space have previously said the site is “one of the last remaining green spaces of its kind.”
And a statement on the group’s Facebook page states housing would have a “huge detriment” to the community, children and community organisations.
It adds: “We don’t want to live in a concrete jungle.
“We intend to do everything we can to prevent this (housing) scheme from going ahead and to keep this land unspoiled, so it can continue to be enjoyed by everyone for years to come.”
A final decision will be made by the council’s Regulatory Committee on Monday, May 20 at Sunderland Civic Centre.
The meeting starts at 10am and for more information, visit:www.sunderland.gov.uk
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service