Plans that could see hundreds of homes built in the shadow of Penshaw Monument have been slammed by campaigners.
Sunderland City Council’s draft Core Strategy and Development Plan has earmarked space for about 400 new properties on land across Chester Road from the historic landmark.
But the prospect of construction on the site has led to fears it will spoil views from Penshaw Hill and damage the nearby Herrington Country Park.
Gillan Gibson of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “I think the impact of this will be highly significant, you’ve only got to go halfway up Penshaw Monument to identify how vast an area this is.”
She added: “It is a very popular place for people to go and they will stand on that hill and look out and should all this housing be built the long view to the distance will almost go.”
She added: “This has been a very successful site and I would suggest this development will totally affect the setting of the whole area.
“It’s a vast site, it’s an intrusion into the countryside and I would suggest Penshaw Monument and its setting and area are very important in the [council’s] overall thinking of a great place to live, work and play.”
Gibson gave evidence at the 10th session of the examination in public of the Core Strategy on Thursday (June 6).
According to the city council’s draft document, which is intended to set planning policy in Sunderland up to 2033, developing the site, identified in reports as HGA9, will create a ‘defensible Green Belt boundary’.
It also claims ‘large areas of green space’ will be kept and cycle and pedestrian paths installed to improve links to the country park.
Consultant Lambert Smith Hampton, acting on behalf of house builders the Harworth Group, said it was ‘strongly opposed’ to building on the site due to its ‘unsustainable location’.
Sunderland City Council however claims the land it suitable for construction and ‘is not considered to unduly alter the semi-rural area character’ of the area.
The council is backed by consultancy Lichfields, acting for Taylor Wimpey, which says development will have ‘ a relatively low impact on the landscape character’.