Cleadon Lane housing development: Controversial proposal for industrial estate approved
Controversial plans for a new housing development have been given the green light, despite hundreds of objections from local residents.
Councillors have ruled on proposals for the redevelopment of part of Cleadon Lane Industrial Estate near East Boldon.
The scheme from Avant Homes proposed demolishing remaining buildings on the 6.3-hectare site to bring forward 202 homes, with 18 apartments and 184 houses proposed.
It comes amid national pressures to increase house-building across the UK.
However the plans sparked huge backlash from neighbours with concerns ranging from increased pressure on schools and health services to increased traffic and air pollution, parking issues, harm to wildlife and loss of employment land.
Other concerns included the ability of sewerage infrastructure to cope and the “increased likelihood of further untreated sewage discharges into the sea and water courses”.
A crunch meeting of South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee to decide the housing plan was held at South Shields Town Hall on Monday, February 13.
At the meeting, which went on for hours, it was revealed nearly 300 public objections had been received in a consultation on the housing plans.
Council planning officers recommended the scheme for approval subject to conditions and a section 106 legal agreement, to secure funding from developers towards ecology mitigation, school places and highway improvements.
It was noted that the plans would increase biodiversity, boost the local economy and offer improved sustainable drainage, with council planning officers stressing there had been no objections from Northumbrian Water Ltd (NWL) on “capacity grounds”.
Council planners also said they had adopted a “screening opinion” which concluded that an environmental impact assessment was not required — a position backed by the Secretary of State in a formal response to the council.
A representative for firm Avant Homes told the meeting the development would deliver 46 affordable homes, reuse a brownfield site in an accessible location and would make a “meaningful contribution” to housing in the borough of South Tyneside.
However a number of objectors remained sceptical, including Cleadon and East Boldon councillor Ian Forster, who raised concerns about the capacity of the local sewerage network and the potential impacts of land contamination, given the site’s industrial history.
Cllr Forster suggested plans could also clash with South Tyneside Council’s environmental commitments under its ocean recovery declaration, or ‘motion for the ocean’, which was approved by borough councillors last year.
Other objectors included environmental campaigner Bob Latimer who said there should have been a full assessment regarding the environmental impact of the Avant Homes scheme on the wider area.
Mr Latimer, who has campaigned for decades over sewage entering the sea off the South Tyneside and Sunderland coast, added: “Nationally there is now a huge concern about pollution and it’s time South Tyneside Council took the lead in stopping it”.
Several Planning Committee members, including councillor Paul Brenen, raised concerns about the implications of the housing scheme on the sewerage system.
Council planning officers acknowledged concerns about the level of discharges from storm overflows and noted that Central Government was developing plans which could set new targets for water companies in future.
However the Planning Committee was asked to focus on the impacts of the Cleadon Lane Industrial Estate application, rather than the national picture.
Councillor Geraldine Kilgour welcomed the use of brownfield land and praised the East Boldon Neighbourhood Forum for helping to secure design improvements and “bartering down” the number of homes on site.
However Cllr Kilgour also criticised the “pocketing” of affordable housing on part of the site, as well as calling for an in-depth investigation of sewerage issues through the council’s scrutiny committee process.
Councillor Sarah McKeown raised concerns about flooding and ground contamination and potential impacts on Tilesheds Burn Local Wildlife Site and questioned planners on how quickly affordable housing would be brought forward.
Councillor David Kennedy described the developer’s financial contribution for coastal ecology as “insulting” and a “drop in the ocean”, as well as raising concerns about increased traffic and parking issues.
Councillor Mark Walsh, closing the debate, added the housing scheme would increase biodiversity, help deliver transport improvements and transform the appearance of the site in a positive way.
He said the site at present was a ‘blot on the landscape’ and the development would be an improvement.
Cllr Walsh added: “I was there on the site visit on Friday and to be honest this site looks like something from science fiction or a dystopian movie.
“So I think it would be a good development in that sense, getting rid of that blot on the landscape that’s there”.
After almost two hours of speeches, questions and debate, the plans were put to the vote and approved by a majority of councillors — with councillors Paul Brenen, David Kennedy and Sarah McKeown voting against.
Planning permission is subject to the completion of a section 106 agreement to secure developer cash to help reduce the housing development’s impact and make it acceptable in planning terms.
This would secure 23% affordable housing, equating to 46 units, a contribution of £81,406 towards “ecology coastal mitigation” and travel cards for first occupiers of new homes to encourage public transport use.
In addition, the development would secure around £1million for education provision, with £616,405 for primary school places and £409,200 for secondary school places.
Work on the Avant Homes development is expected to take place over three phases, with an estimated completion date of around 2030.