Controversial Sunderland nursery plans rejected again - with developer taking flak over 'bail hostel' remarks
Plans for a new children’s nursery have been thrown out by city leaders, with opponents unhappy over remarks made by the would-be developer in the run up to the decision.
But as well as concerns about the impact of increased noise and traffic on the area, planning chiefs also took issue with the applicant’s suggestion the building could become a bail hostel or accommodation for asylum seekers if the scheme was refused.
“[This] fallback position, in my opinion, is nothing more than a threat, an attempt to blackmail the local area into accepting these proposals, which have already been rejected [previously],” said Hendon councillor Michael Mordey, who was referring to a letter sent by the applicant to families living near the site.
“What the owners are effectively saying to the local people is, do not oppose us, or we will make sure something worse goes there.
“It is a completely shameful and underhand way to threaten the local community.”
Cllr Mordey, a former deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, was speaking at a meeting of the local authority’s Planning and Highways Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
A previous application for the building, known as Rowlandson House, to become a children’s nursery was lodged in 2019 but rejected on the grounds of the extra noise and traffic it could create.
This decision was later upheld on appeal by the government’s planning inspectorate.
A revised application submitted in 2020 included a new noise survey and plans for a traffic regulation order (TRO), which subsequently led the council’s planning department to recommend approval.
But the committee was unconvinced, with some particularly concerned about the notion of introducing parking and travel restrictions to facilitate a planning application, rather than address an existing problem.
Anthony Lang, the applicant, told the panel: “It’s a building which needs a use and if we can’t get planning permission for a nursery, then we will have to look at uses [covered by existing rules for the site].
“That statement informed the residents of the uses which central government and Sunderland City Council’s planning department would, do and have allowed in that building.
“There is absolutely nothing shameful or underhand – it’s actually the opposite of underhand, it’s completely open.”
The committee voted unanimously to reject the application.