60 residents came to our public meeting last week at Sunniside Social Club about the proposals by Banks to build 255 houses to the south of Sunniside. The meeting was held because Banks, whose building proposals were dropped from the draft Gateshead local plan at the second round of consultation last year, have themselves sent a leaflet to everyone in the village raising the prospect of a by-pass for Sunniside.
At the meeting, Councillors John McClurey, Marilynn Ord and I explained our view the Banks Group's proposals for housing and a by-pass did not add up. Their proposed costs for building the road were too low. Furthermore, Banks only own about a third of the land over which they have proposed a new road. They have had no significant talks with the owners of the land over which the other two-thirds would pass. Without their cooperation, it is difficult to see how a by-pass could be built.
The building of a by-pass would be financed by contributions from the developers so were a new road to be built, the other sites over which the by-pass would run would also have to be developed. We estimate that instead of the 255 new houses proposed by Banks for their site, the total number of new houses on all the sites on the route could be in excess of 700 and possibly as high as 1000. This would fundamentally alter the nature of Sunniside from that of a large village into a small town.
Were that to happen, other infrastructure projects would be needed, particularly a school, and a contribution to the costs of these would be expected from the developers. This in turn could raise their demands for even more housing to be built.
The meeting discussed issues about traffic congestion and the lack of facilities to support the increase in the population were substantial numbers of new houses to be built. It was also pointed out that the Banks Group by-pass proposals did not include the villages of Marley Hill and Byermoor.
We explained to the meeting that proposals for housing on the Banks Group site had been rejected by the Council in 2012 but Banks would be able to present a case to the Planning Inspectorate in 2014 for that decision to be overturned. The meeting supported the view that Gateshead Council should be encouraged to stand by the decision to reject the Banks proposals and to put a case to the Inspectorate for the Banks site to remain as greenbelt.
We circulated a copy of a petition calling on Gateshead to retain the area owned by Banks Group as greenbelt and reject house-building plans. We need to submit the petition to Gateshead by Monday 21st October so time is quite tight on this.