September 20, 2013 | Property News
A north east developer is to begin canvassing opinions from residents in a Gateshead village about a proposed housing development which could lead to a new privately-funded bypass being built in the area.
Durham-based Banks Property, part of the Banks Group, is sending a newsletter to around 1,800 homes in Sunniside this week regarding its planned residential development of an 11-hectare site to the south of the Tanfield Railway Line.
The scheme would include the construction of both a new road between Stanley Road and Pennyfine Road and a full bypass around the whole village in order to help reduce any transport issues caused by the new homes in an area where there are already major concerns about traffic congestion.
The site was initially identified by Gateshead Council in 2011 as one of the potential locations through which it could look to meet local housing needs up to the year 2030, with Banks proposing to build around 255 properties on it.
However, in July last year, the Council decided that, while the site was still acceptable in principle, it was not going to be included in the forward plan due to the traffic impacts caused by the number of houses that were being proposed for the site and the estimated £20m cost of building a bypass to deal with it.
The Council is instead proposing to mitigate the cumulative traffic impacts of proposed developments at Sunniside and Dunston Hill through improvements to junctions on the A692 and B6317, and through provision of a Park and Ride facility at Lobley Hill.
A report from independent traffic consultants engaged by Banks has found that the actual construction cost of building the bypass would be £8.8 million, and Banks is proposing that new housing development in Sunniside could make financial contributions to meeting the full cost of road construction, rather than letting it fall on the public purse.
Such a bypass would also help to address the major local impact of traffic coming from over 4,000 new homes which, according to the Durham Plan, will be needed in Consett, Burnopfield, Stanley, Tanfield Lea and Annfield Plain.
The Council is currently proposing to allocate 131 new houses to Sunniside, 83 to the west of Pennyfine Road and 48 north of Streetgate, but no allowance has been made to improve the local road infrastructure to manage the traffic that would result from these properties.
Banks is now contacting local people to explain the full details of their proposals, to ensure that they have all the information they need to respond fully to the Council’s ongoing housing consultation, which is due to finish on 21 October 2013.
The company will also be holding a public exhibition at Sunniside Social Club on Sunniside Road between 3pm and 7pm on Thursday 3 October, at which members of the Banks project team will be available to answer visitors’ questions about their proposals and demonstrate the positive impact they would have on the area.
Michael Shuttleworth, managing director of Banks Property, says: “There’s a general acceptance that new housing is needed in Sunniside in order to enable young families to stay in or move to the village, and also to help support local shops and services, but we firmly believe that it must contribute to improving the local highway infrastructure, rather than adding to the pressures under which it already operates.
“Anyone living in or driving through the area knows that Sunniside has long needed a new bypass, and it’s estimated that peak hour traffic flow through the area could increase by as much as 50% over present levels if the planned residential developments go ahead.
“The scheme we put forward offered a way in which this much-needed new road could be built as part of local residential development, and at no cost to the public purse, and we strongly believe that it would fit in extremely well with the work being done to meet Gateshead’s strategic need for more housing stock.
“By circulating information around local communities about the full impact of our proposals, we’re hoping that residents will be able to get a full appreciation of the difference that our ideas could make to their home area, and that they will make their feelings known to their local representatives about them.”
Anyone who would like any further information about Banks’ proposed Sunniside scheme, but who can’t attend the 3 October exhibition should contact the Banks community engagement team on 0844 209 1515 (local rate call) or via www.banksgroup.co.uk/sunniside