Gateshead Council's Strategic Land Review proposes a number of areas in or new my ward should be removed from greenbelt and used for house-building. Were these sites to be agreed, it may not be until 2030 that the land is used. The two biggest sites in my ward are to the south of Sunniside, the village where I live. Sunniside currently has around 1650 houses and the proposal is to add a further 750. This includes housing on a further small site to the north of the village of Streetgate. The immediate concern raised by myself and my two ward colleages - John McClurey and Marilynn Ord - is that the main road in the area, the A692, cannout cope with the traffic that is on it now. Adding 750 houses could make a bad situation worse.
Just down the road, the council is looking at allowing 800 houses to be built on land in the greenbelt. Though loss of greenbelt and open countryside is an issue in Sunniside, it is an even bigger one in Whickham, Dunston Hill and Lobley Hill. The concern is that the loss of this land will come very close to joining up the three settlements into one large conurbation which itself would be an extension of the Gateshead urban area. Dunston Hill and Lobley Hill are also the bottleneck for the A692 before it joins the A1. More traffic there would be a nightmare if vehicles have to use existing roads.
So, we have been carrying out a survey of residents of Sunniside/Streetgate, Whickham and Dunston Hill to find out people's views. Over the weekend we delivered 1650 surveys to every house in Sunniside and Streetgate. We also delivered 400 to houses nearest the site in Whickham. Last week we delivered 750 surveys to houses in Dunston Hill.
I have a large pile of replies, over 400 so far, with plenty still coming in. I'll start working my way through the replies shortly. Watch this space.