Pickles to decide new homes plan

A final decision on plans to build 650 new homes on the outskirts of Wallsend will be made after a week-long public inquiry.

Developers Persimmon Homes had called for the inquiry after North Tyneside Council’s planning committee blocked plans to develop on land at Sunholme Drive.

A week-long inquiry has been pencilled in for June 24 to July 2 with the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities, Eric Pickles, having the final say – likely to be in August.

The authority’s planning committee had rejected the application last October despite officers recommending it be approved.

The application is for the construction of 225 properties with outline consent for a further 425 homes, in a mix of two to six bedrooms.

The 26.8-hectare site – close to the Rising Sun Country Park at the corner of Station Road and Whitley Road, in Benton – also included proposals for a medical centre and retail space.

Persimmon also proposed to spend nearly £500,000 for children’s play spaces, allotments, health and road improvements.

However, the application drew opposition from local residents with more than 1,000 signing petitions objecting to the plans.

Among the reasons for refusal were loss of ‘buffer zone’ to the country park, visual intrusion and traffic issues.

Speaking back in October, Persimmon Homes’ Peter Jordan said: “We had the recommendation for approval which ticked every single box yet councillors again decided they were the experts on certain matters and went against professional recommendations of their officers.

“We didn’t want to take it to an appeal, we had been working hard to avoid that.”