Housing developers given go ahead at Seaburn site after sewage system row

An error by water bosses which put the brakes on a controversial housing scheme has finally been resolved.

View of the site c/o Google Streetview
View of the site c/o Google Streetview

Attempts to formally correct the ‘simple error’ by Northumbrian Water, which development chiefs insisted was not enough to stop work going ahead, saw 81 letters of objection sent to Sunderland City Council.

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But despite opposition, the council’s Planning and Highways Committee gave the amended application the green light at the second time of asking.

Conservative councillor for Fulwell, James Doyle

Coun Paul Stewart said: “My understanding is Miller Homes can go ahead regardless of what we decide.

“The mistake that there was a condition in the original application which shouldn’t have been there and all we’re being asked to do is remove a condition which is not enforceable.”

The updated proposals for the site, north of Seaburn Camp, also went before the panel in January where councillors agreed to delay a decision and instead ask for a survey of sewage capacity in the area.

This request was later rejected by council bosses, who said they were ‘satisfied’ with evidence from Northumbrian Water asserting sewage capacity is ‘sufficient’.

This was dismissed by Conservative opposition councillor James Doyle, who spoke on behalf of opponents but is not a member of the Planning and Highways Committee.

He said: “Perhaps, through arrogance or ignorance or a combination of the two, Miller Homes and Northumbrian Water believe they can pull the wool over our eyes.

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“I believe this is an exercise in premeditation, that Miller Homes and Northumbrian Water know an investigation would reveal the inadequacy of the existing network.”

Liberal Democrat Martin Haswell proposed a new amendment approving the plans but requiring Miller Homes to carry out a survey before connecting to the sewage network.

The panel was advised this would not be legally enforceable and that developers already have an ‘absolute right’ to connect due to the original application’s approval in 2019.

Councillors voted by a 7 – 5 margin in favour of the latest proposal.