Campaigners celebrate victory as appeal for new homes on former Boldon school site is dismissed

Campaigners are celebrating after an appeal for 16 new homes was dismissed due to concerns over trees.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 11:45 am

The planning inspectorate has sided with local campaigners after a petition was launched to protect 22 trees at risk under plans to build new homes in West Boldon.

Earlier this year South Tyneside Council voted 8-5 to reject the plans put forward by developer Karbon Homes for 16 new three and four-bedroom homes on the former Boldon C of E Primary School site, off Rectory Bank.

The plans would have meant the removal of 22 mature tees, including 13 listed under a council ‘Tree Preservation Order” (TPO).

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South Tyneside Tree Action group celebrate saving the trees on the former Boldon C of E Primary School site. From left Alan Hedley, Rachael Milne, Simon Hedley and Richard Milne

Karbon Homes appealed the decision but a government appointed planning inspector dismissed the case, citing concerns over the impact the loss of the trees would have on the character of West Boldon Conservation Area and on wildlife at the site.

Rachael Milne, of South Tyneside Tree Action Group (STTAG) launched an online petition objecting to the plans, which gathered more than 500 signatures.

“This is definitely a success for us. I put a lot of hard work in and it has been rewarded,” said Ms Milne.

“West Boldon Residents’ Association and everybody who handed in objections has played a part.

South Tyneside Tree Action group save the trees on the former Boldon C of E Primary School site.

“If anyone takes anything away from this, they must remember the importance of objecting with solid reasons and for positive change. This proves that we can all make a difference and you must not give up hope.”

Now the campaign group are calling for the council’s Local Plan to take this ruling into consideration and for developers to design new homes around trees moving forward.

At least 2,100 trees are at risk across 60 sites as part of the proposed Draft Local Plan, which will see thousands of new homes built in the borough in the coming years.

“STAGG are not against developing the land, we welcome it, but they need to listen to the residents and ask us what we want,” continued Ms Milne.

South Tyneside Tree Action Group's Rachael Milne celebrates saving the trees on the former Boldon C of E Primary School site.

“The council have declared a climate emergency but are still proposing to develop on all these sites putting trees at risk.

“They need to take all this into account and go back to the drawing board and come up with plans that keep all the trees on site and keep everybody happy.”

South Tyneside Council say they are considering all comments received during the Draft Local Plan consultation period, including those related to the protection of trees and the natural environment.

A spokesman said: “Council policy already supports the retention of trees; that is why the application at the former Boldon C of E school site was refused. The planning inspectorate has agreed with this position.

The former Boldon C of E Primary School site.

“The Council through its new Local Plan will look to continue to provide the policy context which supports the retention and/or the provision of additional trees.”

They added: “The Local Plan is not a planning application and can only look at the principle of development rather than the precise layout and detail of each development site. However, future developments will be assessed against the policies in the new Local Plan once adopted.”