South Tyneside Council has set out blueprints to build up to 5,000 homes across the borough in the next 15 years under the authority’s ‘Local Plan’, with 18 greenbelt sites among those earmarked for development.
The draft document includes 477 houses proposed for three separate sites in Cleadon, though council officers have stressed no final decision has been made.
Residents of Cleadon have submitted around 1,500 objections to the proposals under the Local Plan, which reached the end of its consultation period in October 2019.
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Now Cleadon Action Group, which has more than 1,000 members online, is hoping to raise £10,000 to appoint legal representation over the plans which they say could “destroy” the area.
Council officers say they are in regular contact with the group, but Ian Beattie, of Mayfield Drive, who is among the objectors, said residents felt they were not being listened to.
“We’re very disappointed with the reactions to residents’ concerns,” he said.
“We’ve been lobbying at all levels and they just seem to ignore what their electorate are saying. The only way that we feel we can get them to listen is to take legal action.”
Neighbour, Alan Mordain added: “People are very angry about it. It’s not just the fact it’s right on our doorstep, it’s a disproportionate amount of building that they are proposing.”
Mr Beattie said the group is concerned the village does not have the infrastructure to cope with the proposed number of new homes.
“It’s going to affect the health of everyone in the village. It's the disruption, the effect on the air quality, the pollution, the sewage. It’s going to destroy Cleadon as a village,” he said.
The group has called on South Tyneside Council to prioritise brownfield sites for development and has made contact with Housing Minister Esther McVey, who in an open letter recently urged councils to “maximise the potential of previously developed land” to “limit pressure” on Greenbelt sites.
They also claim that 2018 projections from the Office for National Statistics suggest the housing requirement in South Tyneside to be significantly lower than the 2014 figures on which the Local Plan proposals are based.
“The brownfield will stay just there, festering and becoming an eyesore forever and we’ll be stuck with all these houses and the greenbelt having been developed,” said Mr Mordain.
“We have to get them to see some common sense. It’s just a fiasco.”
The money from a crowdfunding campaign will also be used to carry out a traffic assessment in the village, where the group fears congestion and parking issues are going to be “exacerbated” if development goes ahead.
“Of the 18 potential greenfield sites that are in the Local Plan, 12 of them are in or adjacent to Cleadon,” said Mr Beattie.
“A disproportionate amount of the local greenbelt between Cleadon, East Boldon and Whitburn is all being soaked up. It’s going to create havoc in terms of travel.”
Iain Colderwood, also of Mayfield Drive, added: “It’s the character of the village that young people want to buy into. With this level of development, and congestion, all that’s going to be lost.”
Objections to the Local Plan are being reviewed before consultation next year.
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said the authority has been in regular contact with the group.
A spokesperson said: “No final decisions have been made at this stage. Following consultation on the first draft of the local plan, we are now analysing responses received and all feedback will be considered when shaping the formal Publication Draft, which we will consult on next year.
“We have a statutory obligation to meet our future housing and employment needs that means we have had to look at all options to accommodate development in our draft local plan.
“Ultimately, the plan will be submitted to the Secretary of State for a Public Examination before an independent Planning Inspector.”
Meetings for residents to find out more and donate to the campaign are being held on Saturday, November 23 at Cleadon Methodist Church, from 11am-1pm and Tuesday, November 26 at the New Ship pub from 6.30pm-7pm.
You can donate to the campaign at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/cleadon-action-group