Residents concerned about proposed developments on green belt land across Sunderland have met with chiefs from the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
And at a public meeting members of groups such as the Save West Park campaign and Springwell Residents’ Association spoke of working alongside each other to oppose development on green belt and green field sites as effectively as possible.
The meeting was called in response to worries over the Sunderland Draft Core Strategy and Development Plan, which is currently under consultation, but is set to dictate planning and development until 2033.
Joining the Save West Park and Springwell Residents Association were groups from North Hylton, South Hylton, South Bents and Hetton, all concerned about plans for sites in their area.
Addressing a packed meeting in the National Reserve Club in Albion Place, Richard Cowen, chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) North East branch said: “The most important thing anyone who has concerns can do is to register them with the council planners.
“Those concerns will have to be noted but unless you make them over the next couple of weeks - the closing date for consultation is Monday, October 4 - your opposition will not be noted.
“The Campaign to Protect Rural England helped lead opposition a few years ago to the proposed County Durham plan and that was ultimately sent back to be redrawn but more than 30,000 objections were received to that plan.
“And I would urge anyone in the borough of Sunderland both individually and collectively to make sure they register their concerns so that any inquiry into the plan will take those concerns into account.”
It was also argued by some guests that public consultation so far has been inadequate.
But the CPRE focused on the process by which people could hope to change aspects of the plan itself.
Mr Cowen added: “Unless you register your concern, you’re not in the game when it comes to getting the chance to have a say.
“These are hugely important plans for the people of Sunderland, potentially shaping the future, and it is important that individuals and communities know that now is their moment.
“Groups can get petitions together across the borough and there is a place for that but the most important thing is that anyone who signs the petition also takes the trouble to email in or write in with their concerns so that they can be put on record.”
The council has said that 13,824 more homes are needed by 2033.
Iain Fairlamb, head of planning and regeneration at Sunderland City Council, has previously said that the authority welcomes all feedback from residents and that they can give their views on the proposals via a consultation at www.sunderland.gov.uk/CSDP.
Anyone who would like further information on how to object or information on anything to do with the planning process can contact CPRE secretary Gillan Gibson by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.