Fears over future of Green Belt site as plans go in for new homes

The Green Belt land between South Tyneside and Wardley  where Persimmon Homes wants to build 144 new houses.
The Green Belt land between South Tyneside and Wardley where Persimmon Homes wants to build 144 new houses.

Council bosses in South Tyneside and Gateshead are going into battle over the Green Belt.

A proposed new housing scheme in a key wildlife corridor between the two areas should not go ahead, planners say.

South Tyneside Council has officially opposed the building of 144 homes at the former Wardley Colliery and an adjoining vehicle reclamation yard.

The project is by developer Persimmon Homes and covers 5.6 hectares to the north-east of Whitemare pool and towards the former Hebburn base of South Tyneside College.

South Tyneside planners say the plan conflicts with Green Belt policy, and have expressed reservations about highways management and increased local traffic.

Gateshead Council also says any development would encroach upon the gap that separates the two local authority areas and claims the project would significantly increase use the adjacent Wardley Manor local wildlife site - impacting on its ecological value.

The site is also immediately adjacent to the proposed Wardley Manor Forest Park, which the council sees as an important part of its Gateshead’s strategic green infrastructure network.

Its planning team has now consulted with counterparts in South Tyneside on a scheme first proposed by Persimmon in July 2016 – and been told of similar objections.

South Tyneside Council said the project was in the hands of Gateshead Council and would not comment further.

But in an official letter of response from Gateshead Council seeking its views, its planning team said: “South Tyneside Council objects to the proposal as it would conflict with Green Belt policy.

“By definition the development represents inappropriate development and there would appear to be no very special circumstances that would otherwise enable a development of this scale/size to be allowed at this sensitive site.”

Although within Green Belt, the site is classed as brownfield and carries permission to operate for industrial use.

Persimmon said its application would transform a contaminated, dilapidated, brownfield site into a vibrant housing community.

A spokeswoman said: “The site and the locality, in recent years, have been blighted by regular fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.

“The development would provide much needed housing, including affordable housing, in an area of demonstrable housing need.

“Persimmon Homes are working closely with Gateshead Council and South Tyneside Council to address any highways related impacts.”