Plans approved for huge housing development with 950 homes on outskirts of Sunderland - despite concerns over 'swallowing up' open space

Plans for a huge housing development on the outskirts of Sunderland have been narrowly approved by city councillors.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 7:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 8:02 pm

This week, Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (East) Committee discussed two applications for agricultural land off Burdon Lane in the Doxford ward.

The wider site has already been allocated for housing in the council’s Core Strategy and Development Plan (CSDP), which was recently adopted following an examination in public.

New housing plans, totalling around 950 homes, form the next phase of development in the South Sunderland Growth Area and make up one of the largest new communities the city has seen in decades.

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Looking down Burdon Lane, off which plans have been approved for a 950-home housing development
Looking down Burdon Lane, off which plans have been approved for a 950-home housing development

The development will be brought forward in several phases along with associated social infrastructure and highways improvements.

This includes a new primary school, a neighbourhood centre with amenities such as shops, a medical centre, a community hub and sporting facilities.

Housebuilders Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Story Homes, known as the ‘Burdon Lane Consortium,’ submitted an application seeking full planning permission for 532 homes and outline planning permission for 358 homes.

A further 60 homes are also set to be delivered by Persimmon Homes Ltd on adjacent land at Burdon Lane.

The housing schemes were considered at a planning hearing on March 29, which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.

Although the applications were recommended for approval by council planning officers, several councillors raised concerns about the proposals.

One fear included the development effectively ‘merging’ the communities of Doxford Park, Ryhope and Burdon.

Doxford councillor Heather Fagan raised concerns about open space being “swallowed up” by the development, increased traffic and air pollution and the impact on neighbours during construction phases.

Meanwhile, Doxford councillor and Planning and Highways (East) Committee member, Elizabeth Gibson, claimed “wildlife would suffer”and said the plans would “change the land and outlook forever.”

Developers confirmed that around 50% of the total site area was being developed for residential use, with large amounts of open space being preserved or improved to increase biodiversity and for communities to enjoy.

A bid to reject the plans was also launched by councillor Niall Hodson on the grounds of principle of development, design quality and the impact on residential amenity – however this was defeated by a vote.

Council planning officers said the site had been adopted in the council’s CSDP or ‘local plan’ and that the opportunity to debate the principle of development had long since passed.

They added that going against the officer recommendation to approve would have “serious consequences” for the council, such as a potential public inquiry and significant costs.

Both housing applications were later approved with four votes in favour, three against and two abstentions.

The council is set to enter into a section 106 agreement to secure funds from developers to help mitigate the impacts of new housing.

This will see investment into education facilities, play/recreation, ecology and public transport, alongside contributions towards provision of off-site allotments, additional ecology improvements and highways upgrades.

A total of 10% affordable housing, or 95 homes, will also be provided as part of the development.

In addition, new local road and sustainable transport networks will be coordinated with the council’s plans for the next proposed section of the Ryhope to Doxford Link Road, which will support the delivery of thousands of new homes in the South Sunderland Growth Area (SSGA).

Land to the north of Burdon Lane is the largest of four development sites in the SSGA and the last to come forward.

Following archaeological investigations and infrastructure works, construction could start on the first phase of new homes as early as November 2021.

Other SSGA sites include Chapelgarth, Cherry Knowles and South Ryhope, with an approach of promoting ‘connectivity’ between the areas.

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