Green Party plea over plans for new rent-to-buy homes on former school site that could see 20 trees felled

Green Party campaigners have slammed council bosses over a bid to fell protected trees to make way for housing.

Sunday, 19th May 2019, 14:32 pm
Land at the former Boldon C of E Primary School

South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee are set to approve housing plans for the former Boldon C of E Primary School site.

Developer Karbon Homes aims to build 16 properties on the site, off Rectory Bank, which will be available under a ‘rent to buy’ scheme.

To clear up derelict land, 20 trees could be removed, including thirteen listed under a council ‘Tree Preservation Order’ (TPO).

Labour bosses have defended the move, stating the TPO was put in place to protect the trees while planning discussions were taking place.

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But South Tyneside’s Green Party have said it represents a “failure to appreciate the benefits that trees bestow on the local environment”.

Now, newly-elected Green Party councillor, David Francis, has called for a rethink over the plans.

He said: “The approval of this proposal would be another example of this Labour-run council allowing the removal of trees across South Tyneside without fully considering the worsening environmental impact, or consulting properly on the wishes of local people that are affected.

“This is important given the effects of pollution from nearby traffic on people’s health, especially that of children.”

South Tyneside Council is responsible for more than one million trees across the borough’s parks and open spaces, woodlands, tree-lined streets and highways – more than six trees per resident.

Under its current tree and woodland policy, for every tree removed, at least another one must be planted in the local area.

In the case of the Boldon C of E site, the applicant has agreed to fund replacement tree planting as part of a section 106 agreement.

These could be planted in council-owned area known locally as ‘The Leap’ with the developer funding future maintenance.

Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety on the council, Coun Joan Atkinson, said: “We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously.

“We have had discussions with the landowner and members of the planning committee have had a site visit to familiarise themselves with the site of the proposed affordable housing.

“The council placed preservation orders on the trees to protect them whilst discussions took place with the developer about minimising the number of trees proposed to be felled.”

The TPO covers 22 trees on the site and a total of nine TPO trees would be retained through the proposed development.

Green Party campaigners have said the developer should change the plans to save all trees on the former school site.

But a planning report, drafted for councillors, adds there is a “need to provide affordable housing in this locality and the need to redevelop this constrained site.”

A final decision expected at South Shields Town Hall on Monday.

The meeting starts at 10.30am.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service