Residents fight ‘disastrous’ proposals to build 400 homes on greenbelt in shadow of Penshaw Monument

Penshaw residents Elaine Davidson and David Holyoak with petition to protect greenbelt land housing plans at Sunderland Civic Centre
Penshaw residents Elaine Davidson and David Holyoak with petition to protect greenbelt land housing plans at Sunderland Civic Centre

Residents are fighting ‘disastrous’ proposals to potentially build 400 homes on greenbelt land in the shadow of Penshaw Monument.

Four fields between Barnwell View and Herrington Country Park have been earmarked for possible future development in Sunderland City Council’s Draft Core Strategy and Development Plan.

Penshaw residents Elaine Davidson and David Holyoak with petition to protect greenbelt land housing plans at Sunderland Civic Centre

Penshaw residents Elaine Davidson and David Holyoak with petition to protect greenbelt land housing plans at Sunderland Civic Centre

The authority says 13,824 more homes are needed by 2033, with an average of 768 to be built a year to help deal with the expected population increase – many of these on greenbelt land.

The Penshaw site is an area of 23.9 hectares and the documents states the land could be used to build “approximately 400 dwellings” – although council bosses have emphasised this remains at the consultation stage and nothing is definite.

Should any future development go ahead, campaigners warn it will not only lead to loss of greenbelt land, but it will put pressure on roads and services in the area.

Members of the Save Penshaw Greenbelt Campaign have now handed over a petition with 438 signatures to Sunderland City Council in an effort to stop homes being built on the land.

It would be a disaster for the area

Elaine Davidson, Penshaw resident

Campaigners Elaine Davidson and David Holyoak – both retired teachers – also delivered 316 letters of objection to the authority’s planning department.

Elaine, 74, moved from Millfield to Penshaw 53 years ago because she wanted to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

She now fears that the picturesque village will turn into a Sunderland suburb, and says the council should build more homes closer to the city centre in order to increase footfall there and boost the economy where it is needed.

“It’s been hard work going around collecting the signatures, but we need to speak out against these proposals,” she said.

“It’s not been a good time to have a consultation because people have been on holiday.

“We found that a lot of people weren’t even aware of it and we had to explain what they were suggesting.

“We are objecting for various reasons.

“Firstly, anybody who drives along Chester Road knows what the traffic is like.

“To add 400 houses next to Chester Road is not feasible. The type of households they are trying to attract will likely have more than one car.

“We could have getting on for 1,000 extra cars on Chester Road

“It will also put a strain on local services. There will be no extra doctors, no extra schools, and it’s already not possible to register with a dentist here.

“It would be a disaster for the area.”

Elaine added: “Going around seeing people has been amazing.

“It made me realise what strong a sense of community we have here and we determined we are to fight this.”

For more information, search for Save Penshaw Greenbelt on Facebook.

Iain Fairlamb, Head of Planning and Regeneration at Sunderland City Council, said: “The city council is consulting on its draft Core Strategy and Development Plan.

“This outlines how 13,824 more homes are needed by 2033, with an average of 768 to be built a year to help deal with the expected population increase.

“At this stage the consultation is just that, none of the proposals are set in stone and we very much want to hear and have input from local people.

“The plans have been developed in response to the need for homes to house the city’s growing population.

“We need a minimum of 13,824 new homes by 2033 to meet our housing needs in accordance with Government methodology.

“Following extensive research to identify where future homes could be built, we have been unable to identify enough land in existing communities to meet the need.

“The input of local people is instrumental in ensuring the plan delivers everything needed for Sunderland to reach its potential as a thriving, sustainable city which is why we have organised a number of events and sent leaflets to households in the city with more details of these, and all the other ways residents and businesses can give their views.”

A consultation on the proposals was due to end today.