Upmarket homes get the green light

'MONEY-GRABBERS'... Lilian Milne was one of those opposing the school site sale.
'MONEY-GRABBERS'... Lilian Milne was one of those opposing the school site sale.

A CONTROVERSIAL upmarket housing development on the site of a former South Tyneside special school is earmarked for approval next week.

South Tyneside Council received an estimated £2.1m when it sold off the Oakleigh Gardens School site, on the boundary of Cleadon Village, to housebuilder Gentoo.

The school closed in July last year as part of a shake-up of special educational needs in the borough.

Its demise came despite a hard-fought battle by campaigners to keep it open.

But when members of the council’s planning committee meet next Monday, they will be recommended to approve plans for 16 two-storey four and five-bedroom detached homes on the site.

The proposal has not been without its detractors.

One of the campaigners who fought to save the school, Lilian Milne, of Elmsleigh Gardens, Cleadon, has accused the local authority of “money-grabbing”.

And committee members will also hear objections from two householders in Elmsleigh Gardens and Sunniside Terrace.

Both have expressed concerns over congestion and pollution as a result of the estimated extra 64 cars that would access and exit the estate.

Despite those concerns, members will be recommended to approve the development.

A report to the committee says: “As for the concern that the development would result in additional traffic and would cause congestion, it is considered that the established use of the site as a school would have the potential for far higher trip generation than the proposed use for 16 dwellings.

“In addition, the pattern of vehicle movements with a school is concentrated during short spells in the morning and afternoon, whereas residential traffic tends to be more evenly distributed.”

Oakleigh Gardens School closed last summer as part of a £200m investment in creating world-class schools in South Tyneside.

Pupils have since transferred to Bamburgh and Keelman’s Way schools.