BATTLE lines have been drawn over plans for a new luxury housing development at a former Army camp in South Tyneside.
Almost 50 houses are being lined up 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 involve the demolition of the army camp buildings and construction of 48 four and five-bedroom detached properties.
Before approving it, South Tyneside Council planners are insisting that 12 affordable terraced houses, with two or three bedrooms, are included in the scheme.
A petition objecting to the development has been signed by 137 residents.
They are unhappy that the application site encroaches onto green-belt land at the old Whitburn firing range.
Concerns have also been expressed that the luxury homes are not in keeping with the surrounding one and two-storey buildings and that they represent “exclusivity rather than inclusivity”.
However, a meeting of the council’s planning committee next month is recommended to approve the homes.
One of the objectors, Barbara Spour, 83, of Larch Avenue, Whitburn, said: “I have lived here for 63 years, and I like it the way it is.
“We like the wildlife on the fields and this proposed development is an encroachment on the green belt.
“Luxury properties are not in keeping with surrounding properties. The proposed development has a complete disregard for the scale of existing one and two-storey buildings. It compromises the openness of the green belt.”
Another spokesman for the objectors said: “The scheme offers no benefit to the local community, with no consideration of local housing needs.
“The proposal is for luxury houses, aimed at high-earning families whose housing needs are already well provided within the village at Front Street and Shearwater.
“It is inward-looking, giving it an air of exclusivity rather than inclusivity.”
A report to the committee says: “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.”
Coun Tracey Dixon, a ward member for Whitburn and Marsden, said: “I have expressed my concerns with regard to this application and, in particular, its footprint encroaching on green belt.
“I have kept myself informed on the development throughout and supported the residents through the process. I will be attending the committee with them to see exactly what is being proposed.”
The planning committee is to meet at South Shields Town Hall from 10pm on Monday, June 9.
Members of the public are invited to attend.