Letter of the week: 'Seaburn housing plans should be shelved like those at West Park'

Campaigners celebrate victory in the West Park housing battle.
Campaigners celebrate victory in the West Park housing battle.

The recent spell of warm weather attracted, as it always does, many visitors to Seaburn.

Once the free public car park behind The Seaburn Centre had filled up, the visitors’ cars soon over spilled into the surrounding streets.

The problems caused by this influx of vehicles has already been highlighted by Councillor George Howe, however, if the council goes ahead with its proposals for the area, the situation will get a whole lot worse.

For many years the Letters Page of the Echo has been filled with suggestions as to what should be done about Seaburn.

Ideas ranged minimal, tasteful developments, to the creation of a mini Blackpool.

However, rather than show favour to any of these ideas, the council has decided to ignore them all and transform Seaburn into a 545 dwelling, housing estate.

Examination of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) reveals that the present free public car park, the Pirates and Lambton Worm Play Parks, Seaburn Camp and all of the green land behind Morrisons stretching over to South Bents, are to be given over to housing.

In fairness it must be recognised that the Government has imposed targets on all local authorities in respect of house building, and in Sunderland’s case it is 13,824 dwellings by 2033.

This may well be a challenging task but surely there are sufficient “brown field” sites within Sunderland’s de-industrialised landscape that could be deployed to meet this need.

Selecting Seaburn is of course an easy option as the area in question is public land owned by the council (albeit on our behalf), thus obviating the need for any of the complexities associated with compulsory purchase.

The permanent loss of green space however, seems not to matter.

Readers living in other parts of Sunderland, or indeed beyond the city boundary, may well feel that this proposed development will have no effect on them – but it will.

Every time they come to Seaburn to enjoy the natural elements – sandy beach, sea air (forget the “facilities”), they will have nowhere to park their cars.

A stroll across the green parkland between Seaburn and South Bents will also no longer be possible.

The recent review of proposals at Herrington mean that plans to build houses at West Park have, quite rightly, been shelved.

The same should happen at Seaburn as the green space here is just as precious as that at Herrington.

Frank Hunter

Also read: Seaburn redevelopment plans will ruin a 'beautiful sea front'