Seaburn:Let’s get it right

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I recently attended a meeting held at Seaburn regarding its regeneration.

This involved councillors, and people from Siglion, who are the developers in partnership with the council.

There was an overwhelming number of residents as well as people from other parts of Sunderland, who all voiced their views and concerns. I think the conclusion was that people did not want housing, they wanted leisure facilities.

The argument that the schools and doctors were already at bursting point was, I believe, a good enough arguing point.

The concerns of the inadequate traffic situation at the moment, let alone adding even more cars from another 270 houses, justified their case.

The arguments went all around the room, 400 houses down to 270, could be 5 storeys high, 60-bedroom hotel, ice rink, parking spaces, 1000’s sq ft of leisure, the list goes on but the houses had to be built to finance the scheme. It did seem odd to me to still be arguing after all this time yet the real proposals had not been agreed. Like many there I too want to see Seaburn redeveloped and while more houses would be of great benefit to me, business wise, I think what has to come first and foremost are real first-class leisure facilities for all.

That said and although people did not want to hear what I had say, I thought it important to tell the meeting that before any regeneration takes place an investigation has to be carried out into how a situation has arisen where we are now storing foul sewage under the seafront, in a system that was designed to store storm water in emergency, this tunnel has a capacity of 15,000 tons and even this is now not adequate.

Not only are we storing foul sewage in the storm water tunnel, extra storage has been provided under Deep Dene Road and NW are in the process of installing even more storage tanks behind Morrisons, Seafields, St Peter’s and in many more roads around the Fulwell, Roker and Seaburn areas.

This is because the sewage system including Hendon Treatment Works is so under capacity we are being overwhelmed with foul sewage.

Both Sunderland and South Tyneside Councils are so desperate for cash they are planning to built almost anywhere, yet the Whitburn sewage system, which receives all the CSO spills from Roker, Seaburn, Whitburn, Cleadon and part of Boldon cannot cope now, let alone adding any new buildings.

Overflows from this system spill into the sea and the river, despite supposed tests, the subsequent pollution and its risks to health are seen on our beaches and sea all the time – this is not the way to increase visitors to Seaburn.

People born after May 23, 1984, may not have heard of the Abbeystead disaster where 16 people died from a methane gas explosion involving a tunnelled raw water transfer system just like the system they are building at Seaburn, Roker and Fulwell, installing underground foul sewage storage tanks which could be another disaster waiting to happen.

Although it was my understanding that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) had to be carried out regarding large developments as this, I do not fully understand why, but it is claimed that some loophole called a ‘screening opinion’ has been allowed in that the EIA for Chapelgarth can be used so one is not required for Seaburn – this does not seem logical or safe.

I am all for Seaburn regeneration but let’s do it right, not on the cheap like the sewage system.

Bob Latimer