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NARROWLY APPROVED: Penshaw housing plans go ahead

NARROWLY APPROVED: Penshaw housing plans go ahead

Land south west of Herrington Country Park, off the A183 Chester Road, Image: Google Maps

A huge housing estate in the shadow of Sunderland’s Penshaw Monument has been narrowly approved by councillors.

This week, a crunch meeting was held to decide on plans from Taylor Wimpey North East for a parcel of land south west of Herrington Country Park.

The site, which is bordered by the A183 Chester Road and Chislehurst Road,  was previously allocated for housing in Sunderland City Council’s adopted Core Strategy and Development Plan (CSDP), or ‘local plan.’

Despite opposition to housing development, the site was ‘deleted’ from the green belt following an ‘examination in public’ where the CSDP was assessed by a government-appointed planning inspector.

Developers have since worked up plans for 440 homes on the site, which will be brought forward in two phases.

On Tuesday (October 5) the council’s Planning and Highways (West) Committee were asked to consider granting full planning permission for the first phase of 116 homes.

In addition, outline planning permission was requested for 324 homes with all matters such as design and scale reserved until a later date.

The plans have continued to attract opposition from locals, with council planners receiving around 274 objections during several rounds of public consultation.

Concerns ranged from impacts on local services and highways infrastructure to the loss of countryside, quality of development, environmental impacts and residential amenity.

Planning officers, recommending the application for approval, said the scheme would deliver new housing, employment and economic benefits.

The housing plans are also expected to be designed to minimise impacts on the setting of the grade I-listed Penshaw Monument, alongside offering  landscape buffers, areas of open space and pedestrian links.

At the meeting to decide the application at Sunderland Civic Centre this week, councillor William Blackett raised concerns about the housing and noted the archeological importance of the wider area.

But planning officers, responding, confirmed that there were no objections from the Tyne and Wear Archaeology Officer but that these issues would be monitored by a planning condition.

Russell Hall, managing director of Taylor Wimpey North East, also spoke in support of the application at the planning hearing.

Addressing the planning committee, he said: “We of course understand the concerns of the members of the local community regarding a development of this scale.

“However you will see from your [planning] officer’s report that the granting of planning permission will be subject to strict controls of the local planning authority.

“This, along with our own strict considerate construction principles and the governance of the site by other statutory authorities and statutory undertakers, will ensure that disruption is kept to an absolute minimum.

“We respectfully urge you to grant approval for our proposals in line with your officer’s recommendation so we can progress with the delivery of much-needed private and affordable homes in this highly sustainable and accessible location.”

The planning approval is subject to a section 106 legal agreement, allowing the council’s planning authority to secure 15% on-site affordable housing and contributions from developers towards local improvements.

Financial contributions from the developer are expected be channelled towards secondary education provision, the ‘maintenance and improvement’ of sport and recreation facilities and junction improvements on the A183 Chester Road.

Highways officers confirmed that the highways improvements, at the A183’s junctions at Biddick Hall, Shiney Row and with the A19, are expected to be brought forward as part of the first phase of housing on site.

Councillor Mel Speding, ward councillor for Shiney Row, also raised concerns at the meeting about increased traffic levels from the proposed development and impacts on an historic public right of way.

He added that the plans to earmark funds for secondary schools were an “abuse of the section 106 agreement” as there is “no secondary school in Shiney Row.”

Despite dissenting voices, the plans were given the green light following a tense vote.

The Planning and Highways (West) Committee were initially split with four votes for and four against.

However, councillor Melanie Thornton used her casting vote as chair of the panel to approve the application.

 

Words: Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter


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