Campaigners win battle over luxury homes on ex-army site

EX ARMY CAMP ... the development site in Whitburn.
EX ARMY CAMP ... the development site in Whitburn.

CAMPAIGNERS have won the battle to prevent part of a former South Tyneside Army camp being converted into a luxury housing development.

Council planners had recommended the go-ahead to build almost 50 homes at Whitburn Army Camp in Mill Lane, Whitburn, despite strong objections from neighbours of the site.

The development, proposed by Sunderland-based Bett Homes, would have involved the demolition of the army camp buildings and construction of 48 homes, including 36 four and five-bedroom detached properties.

At a meeting of the council’s planning committee yesterday, members threw the application out, on the grounds that it was “inappropriate” and “detrimental to greenbelt land”.

Dr Jon Warren, of Augusta Terrace, Whitburn, had helped co-ordinate a campaign against the development.

The opponents main objection was that it spilled out onto green belt land at a rifle range incorporating part of the former Ministry of Defence site.

And the fear was that, if approved, the application could prove the “thin edge of the wedge”.

Dr Warren said: “We’re pleased that the planning application has been rejected.

“We’re not opposed to an application which is appropriate but this was rejected on the grounds that this was an inappropriate development.

“Our concern was that if this development had been allowed on this site it would have opened the door for similar developments on greenbelt land across South Tyneside.

“Concerns were also expressed about drainage and local traffic issues. We feel this is a victory for common sense.”

A petition objecting to the development has been signed by 137 residents.

Concerns had also been expressed that the luxury homes were not in keeping with the surrounding one and two-storey buildings and that they represented “exclusivity rather than inclusivity”.

In recommending approval borough planners had insisted that 12 affordable terraced houses, with two or three bedrooms, were included in the scheme.

A report to the committee said: “The harm to the green belt and to a local wildlife site is outweighed by the very special circumstances if, and only if, the affordable housing, of a type which meets local needs, can be delivered in a timely manner.”

Members of the council’s planning committee paid a visit to the application site before making their decision.

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