Q&A with leader of Sunderland Council

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SVRA AGM 14th May 2019
Q&As with Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland Council

SVRA AGM 14th May 2019
Q&As with Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland Council

SVRA Chair introduced Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland Council, thanked him for attending and asked that residents showed him courtesy and respect at all times. Questions could be put to Cllr Miller and all participants were assured they would be given a chance to speak providing the correct behaviour was followed. He replied that he thought it was important to deal with residents and apologised for missing earlier meetings due to busy diary.

Councillors Miller began by explaining he had only been leader of council for a year, understood that the Core Strategy had been in place for four years and that no plan would satisfy some residents. He was here to answer questions on the CSDP and green belt deletions in and around Springwell Village.

The Council has a duty to produce a Local Plan and the village needs an element of housing. The Council also wants to keep greenspaces such as football fields.

Houses are needed for projected jobs at IAMP. He expects 2000 jobs in Sunderland /Washington in the next 2 years.

Residents response was that we are not Washington

Cllr M – replied that legally we are due to boundary changes 12 years ago.

Residents in unison responded that “we are not”

Residents asked about Plan, loss of wildlife due to greenbelt deletions and most people don’t want deletion of greenbelt. That loss is irreplaceable, houses are not needed and residents want to preserve village as it is.

Cllr M – replied that family housing was needed, and developers know this, referring to NW area of village (Hellens site)

Residents replied that infrastructure can’t take extra houses, roads are blocked, and at times it can take up to 50 minutes to get out of village. Young people cannot afford to buy in village as it is, let alone what is proposed to be built.

Cllr M – said that Hellens had proposed new school and developers would pay to develop roads, would open up the village centre, but then withdrew offer. Also said that GPs were needed if houses were built.

SVRA – stated that the NW site (Hellens) of the village was not the only site being proposed for housing and pointed out that there are two additional HGAs, safeguarded land, Thompsons site and NWL reservoir all posing threats to green belt. Asked how narrow roads could handle 1000 houses?

SVRA – asked why Gateshead objection was not taken into account

Cllr M – “very easily” – was not submitted on time.

SVRA – what about duty to co-operate? Hard copy was delivered, date stamped at 9.04am

Cllr M – not sure of argument as he is not a planning officer.

SVRA – reiterated that the prime function of the greenbelt is to stop urban sprawl, we will merge with Gateshead and settlement break will not exist. We will also be joined to Washington.

Cllr M – planning officer will change things if there are errors in planning docs etc. Residents should make strong arguments before inspector.

Residents again brought up pollution, road infrastructure inadequate, roads incapable of taking more traffic. Existing problems will be exacerbated.

Why was building not taking place on brownfield sites? Why was building not taking place in Sunderland City Centre?

Cllr M – developers will put money into roads etc.

Residents said that no one had heard this before.

Cllr M – Building could not take place on Vaux site as Tesco owned site and council had objected to superstore, so Tesco retained site. Now a 21st Century container village will be built on site.

Resident asked why houses were being forced on us? Springwell Village is not built for 21st century. There is no room for additional houses, with additional cars, children etc.

Cllr M – when plan was drawn up 4 years ago, different planners drew up different documents.

ON consultation

SVRA – stated all decisions were made by planning officers with no local knowledge, outdated maps, could not answer questions,

Resident – said she had lived here 30 years and that Council constantly move goalposts, there is no trust.

Cllr M – replied that there was no trust in politicians at the moment. UDP was out of date, new staff have been appointed and Council do not move goalposts. Does not agree that planning officers were not professional, and it is his job to give good service to residents.

Resident – Cllr M does not understand infrastructure of village and should walk around area to see pollution and gridlocked traffic near school and at pinch points Emergency vehicles struggle.

Cllr M – does know about traffic and says village is a “rat run”. Planners have looked at NHS database regarding Emergency vehicles going through village.

Resident – Council received 8000 objections, who took note of this? CSDP was amended at behest of handful of developers but no amendments in consideration of residents’ views. Residents flatly reject infrastructure can cope. We are not NIMBYS. Regarding planners, they cannot know better than residents. Planners dismissive, referred to village as “that lot up there”

Cllr M – replied Council do listen. Its “planners’ job to know “and as the Plan has been submitted to the Inspector it is too late to change. No plan has gone through unscathed.

Resident – asked how NWL were able to have access road to Hellens site?
Cllr M – Utility companies have different powers

Meeting concluded and Cllr Miller was thanked again for attending.

Meeting concluded and Cllr Miller was thanked again for attending.

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