Sunderland gets new village green after planning blunder paves the way for protecting open space

A planning blunder has helped smooth the way for Sunderland’s newest village green.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 25 May, 2019, 12:14

City bosses approved application to protect the land next to Fulwell Methodist Church, in Dovedale Road, this morning.

It followed a bid to build homes on the site, which failed when developers ‘wrongly identified’ its owner.

“Initially there was a planning application for this bit of land from Sunderland Homes Ltd, which is an arm’s length company owned by the council,” said Jim Wotherspoon, a solicitor for Sunderland City Council.

“When they submitted their original application, they hadn’t identified the land entirely accurately and the council did not own all the land as thought – the Methodist church owned some of the land.”

He added: “The residents submitted an application to register the land as a village green, which will prevent development of the land in future.”

Mr Wotherspoon was speaking at this morning’s meeting of the city council’s Regulatory Committee, which unanimously agreed to approve the village green application after objections by Sunderland Homes and Fulwell Methodist Church were withdrawn.

For land to be designated a village green, which grants protected status to prevent development, it must be proved it has been used ‘for a minimum of 20 years for lawful sports and pastimes’.

A report was provided to the committee by an independent barrister, which recommended giving the proposal the go-ahead.

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This included testimony from more than 60 people, including Lyndsey Middleton-Kitcatt, who, according to a report for the panel, also submitted the village green application.

Mr Wotherspoon also reassured the committee the new designation would apply to the whole site, which is partly owned by the council and by the Methodist church.

He added: “The church owns a tiny little triangle of that and that will become part of the village green.

“The ownership of the land is irrelevant to the application to register as a village green.

“It’s about whether the criteria is met, rather than whether it’s owned by the council or the church.”

 

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service