Bulldozers set to demolish farm buildings which became antisocial behaviour target

Vacant farm buildings which have become a “prime target” for anti-social behaviour are set to face the bulldozers, following a decision by council planning bosses.

Friday, 13th August 2021, 7:21 pm
West Moor Farm buildings, Washington Picture: Google.

This week, Sunderland City Council’s planning department approved an application to demolish all buildings at West Moor Farm, off the A1290 in the Washington North ward.

The farmhouse and associated farm buildings sit within the wider footprint of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) development site.

Although the property was previously acquired by the IAMP Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), established by Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council as part of a strategy to deliver the project, it has been left standing empty ahead of development.

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West Moor Farm buildings, Washington Picture: Google.

According to a planning statement prepared for applicant IAMP LLP, the proposed demolition of West Moor Farm had become urgent due to repeated anti-social behaviour issues.

This included incidents of anti-social behaviour, vandalism and break-ins during three weekends in May 2021, with the applicant “wishing to negate the risk of serious incident/injury by accelerating the proposed demolition work.”

The planning statement reads: “The intention is for the site to be cleared of all debris and for all buildings to be demolished and cleared as soon as possible, subject to securing planning permission and a Natural England licence, whilst taking into account the appropriate time for undertaking the works from an ecological point of view.”

Ecological mitigation measures proposed by the applicant included the erection of several barn owl boxes and bat boxes in the area and a hibernation box in the tree belt to the south of the farmyard and the A1290.

Applicants also noted demolition plans for Elliscope Farm in West Boldon, where additional wildlife boxes and a wildlife tower were proposed as mitigation, with the tower providing “nesting and hibernating opportunities for both barn owls and bats.”

The mitigation measures will be provided prior to the start of works on farm buildings and the site will be checked for nesting species before any demolition takes place.

The planning statement prepared for IAMP LLP says: “No barns will be demolished while barn owls are showing breeding behaviour on site, including nest buildings or while young are dependent.

“This is to ensure there is no disturbance to the owls during this period. The main breeding period is March to September, however, as barn owls can breed all year round, checks will be made prior to demolition.”

After considering all representations, Sunderland City Council’s planning department approved the demolition application on August 12.

The West Moor Farm plans follow several similar planning applications from IAMP LLP to demolish buildings blighted by antisocial behaviour.

This included buildings at Elliscope Farm in West Boldon, with demolition works approved by South Tyneside Council on August 3.

Plans were also approved in November 13, 2020 to demolish Usworth Cottages off Washington Road which had become a target of anti-social behaviour, arson and vandalism.

The planning statement reads: “The demolition works relating to all the properties were initially intended to be consented under the IAMP TWO Development Consent Order.

“However, applications seeking consent for the demolition works have been brought forward separately and urgently in light of the issues that these properties are facing.”

It goes on to say: “Until recently, Usworth Cottages and Elliscope Farm were the targets of anti-social behaviour.

“However, West Moor Farm is also now becoming a prime target of anti-social behaviour and vandalism hence the reason for this application.”

For more information on the demolition plans for West Moor Farm, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 21/01330/FUL