Plans to close Sunderland underpass to improve access to major housing development

Plans to permanently close an underpass to improve access to a major Wearside housing development have been approved.

Tuesday, 17th September 2019, 11:44 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th September 2019, 11:45 am
Mill Hill Road underpass, Doxford Park.

Earlier this year, Gentoo Homes won planning permission for 100 homes North of Mill Hill Road in the final phase of a major regeneration scheme.

The plans mark ‘phase six’ of the housebuilder’s redevelopment plans which have seen hundreds of homes built in the Doxford Park area of Sunderland.

This month, a separate application was approved to improve routes for pedestrians using the new development.

Under the plans, an underpass serving Mill Hill Road will be scrapped and replaced with a reconstructed footpath on raised ground levels.

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The changes aim to improve levels of surveillance and lighting following several reports of graffiti and youths loitering at the site.

Surveys carried out by Gentoo also concluded the underpass is “underutilised” with its closure expected to have a minimal impact on the community.

A report submitted by the applicant also sets out the reasoning for the closure.

It reads: “This underpass simply does not provide an adequate or attractive means of crossing Mill Hill Road within the modern housing developments within the Doxford Park masterplan area.

“It does not provide safe of convenient means of access for the most vulnerable members of the community and is therefore a significant risk to the health and safety of the public.

“It is an area subject to anti-social behaviour and is an on-going maintenance liability for the local authority.

“Removal of this underpass would therefore eliminate these issues.”

A scheme to replace the underpass includes improvements to the existing crossing alongside new paving, the removal of guardrails and the lifting of existing footways.

Developers have said plan would not require a signalised pedestrian crossing in the area.

However, a report adds that appropriate alternative crossing points will be provided on Mill Hill Road.

The plans were given the go-ahead by Sunderland City Council planners on Thursday, September 12, 2019.

Under planning conditions, work must take place within three years.