'Ghost cottages' at IAMP site on Sunderland-South Tyneside border set to be demolished after becoming a magnet for trouble

Derelict buildings which have become a magnet for trouble are set for demolition.

Friday, 16th October 2020, 11:42 am

Usworth Cottages and Chalet off Washington Road, near Nissan – dubbed ‘ghost houses’ by some – sit withing the footprint of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) site.

They sit on the outskirts of the former RAF Usworth airfield, now occupied by the North East Land, Sea and Air Museum.

They were 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, but have been left standing empty ahead of development.

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Usworth Cottages (October 2020)

But the properties have attracted increasing trouble, with problems ranging from arson to antisocial behaviour – with someone could be seriously injured or killed if action isn’t taken.

Now plans have been lodged with Sunderland City Council to bulldoze the properties.

According to a planning statement prepared by development consultancy Lichfields, Usworth Cottages have been blighted by “repeated and escalating incidents” of antisocial behaviour and vandalism.

Since the beginning of January, Northumbria Police have been called to eight incidents at the site ranging from burglary and theft to criminal damage and fire.

Usworth Cottages (October 2020)

It reads: “The security company and Northumbria Police are now attending the properties on a regular basis in response to alarms triggered as a result of the antisocial behaviour events.

“Attempts to break in or set fire to the properties continue unabated and IAMP LLP are increasingly concerned that this may lead to a serious injury or death.

“Furthermore, IAMP LLP have been informed that when the police or security company attend the site, individuals involved in unlawful activities often flee towards and across the A19 trunk road.

“The A19 is a busy high-speed dual carriageway and this introduces a significant additional risk of serious injury or death.”

Usworth Cottages (October 2020)

Although IAMP LLP have installed security fencing and signage around the properties to prevent access, the report states, this is having “little effect.”

The planning statement goes on to say: “It was originally intended that demolition of all affected buildings within IAMP, including theseproperties, would be consented under the IAMP TWO development consent order.

“However, the need for the demolition of these properties has become urgent following repeated and escalating incidents of antisocial behaviour and vandalism, as well as a number of unsuccessful arson attempts at the cottages (so far).

“However, the shared garage / outbuildings plot have been successfully burnt down and have had to be cleared to make them safe.”

A decision on the demolition plans is expected by early December following consultation.

Comments can be made by writing to Sunderland City Council’s planning department or visiting its online planning portal.

For more information, visit: www.sunderland.gov.uk/online-applications and search planning reference 20/01915/FUL

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