Villagers fight plans to develop greenbelt land

Residents from Eighton Banks and Springwell are joining forces to save the greenbelt between the two villages.
Residents from Eighton Banks and Springwell are joining forces to save the greenbelt between the two villages.

Determined residents from a Wearside village have joined forces with their neighbours in a bid to save greenbelt land under threat of development.

Since the start of the year, people living at Springwell Village in Washington have been gathering support against proposals to build homes on 30 acres of land.

These people will not rest until the fight is over

Angela Templeman

The area has been acquired by developer Hellens Group, which wants to create more houses in the village.

The move could include the potential relocation of the village’s primary school.

However, the proposals have hit a nerve with residents of Springwell Village, who are determined to save the greenbelt land for future generations.

They have enlisted the support of those living in neighbouring Eighton Banks in Gateshead – believed to also be affected by any development on the land – to add more weight to their battle to protect the area.

Angela Templeman, chair of Springwell Village Residents’ Association, said: “The proposed development would be adjacent to a landfill site and the Bowes Railway track.

“Both potential neighbours support our view this is not a suitable place for people to live.

“We recognise there is a need for homes – and all the brownfield sites in the village have newly-built houses on them.

“But we dispute the need to build them on greenbelt sites, particularly where there is a strained road network, constant complaints about traffic and emissions, and opportunities elsewhere to build as many houses as Sunderland needs.

“These people will not rest until this fight is well and truly over.”

Already a number of meetings to fight the plans have taken place, and a petition against the proposals has been handed into the deputy leader of the council and Washington councillor Harry Trueman.

Now, residents in Gateshead have started their battle against the plans by writing letters of objections to their own council.

Eighton Banks residents Jon Lindsay said: “The threat to the greenbelt here is huge and it affects everyone – everyone has a right to use it, and once it is gone, it can never be replaced.

“Those of us who live nearby are well placed to understand these issues and I’m very pleased that Eighton Banks residents are being given the opportunity to have a voice, along with our neighbours in Springwell Village.”

Gavin Cordwell Smith, chief executive of Hellens Group, said: “It is our intention to hold a public consultation event within the village to obtain feedback from the local community.

“We want to work with the local community and gather their opinions on what they would like to see in the village – consultation within communities like Springwell is very important to us.

“In the first instance we would welcome the opportunity to meet with the Springwell Village Residents’ Association to discuss any potential development and any concerns they have.

“Teal Farm in Washington is a prime example of Hellens’ track record – having delivered employment opportunities, a village centre and much-needed housing, including affordable housing within the locality.

“We have worked very closely with the Teal Farm Residents’ Association, who have been instrumental in the shaping of the development in this location.”