Editorial: Sunderland Council Is Bulldozing Our Green Spaces Into A Concrete Jungle- Enough is Enough

Sunderland Council are hell bent obsessed in taking what ever vacant Green Space is available in the City and carving it up for new developments. The incentive of profit is being placed above the local good and interest on every occasion. To name just a few places South of the River, the open hill above Silksworth Lane is currently being built on, wetland between Doxford Park and East Herrington is being carved up, new houses are being planned for the fields on North Moor bordering the Lakes and then the revelation emerged that a new crematorium has been proposed for the wildlife space known as “Foxy Island”- between Farringdon, Gilley Law and Doxford Park. This is not an exhaustive list, many other green spots throughout the city are pending a similar fate.

Sunderland is not an area suffering from housing shortages. Up until the last few years, the city actually suffered from significant population decline owing to the demise of its industrial heritage from outward migration. The area still has roughly 20,000 less people than it did in the early 1990s. Whilst new and appealing housing is always needed, this does not substantiate the logic that excessive “additional” housing is needed via the means of building on every green space available. Sunderland arguably has more brownfield land than it does green land. There are a number of unappealing and derelict places, not just confined to the city centre, where new housing can be built. Indeed, that has precisely what the council has done in areas such as Ford Estate and Pennywell, and intends to do so to derelict sites around the Stadium of Light. Some infamously poor suburbs have been regenerated, but this list is not exhausted. What about Hendon? What about the old East End? Southwick?

There is no justification for building on green areas that have never been used before. In doing so the council is betraying its own unitary development plans and vows to protect its green belt- The foxy island proposal is one such betrayal, which was in 1998 earmarked to be a country park akin to the one in East Herrington. The incentives for such excessive building are purely financial. It might be argued that a decade of austerity and local government cuts has transformed the behaviour of Sunderland Council into that of a private business, as opposed to a public guardian. When it sees vacant land, it doesn’t think in terms of quality of life, scenery, environment wellbeing or visual senses, it thinks in terms of income and investment. However this is not so much Desperation as it is opportunism. The council has been deaf-eared to listen to the objections of local communities who are having their recreational spaces taken away and carved up for profit.

Enough is enough. Sunderland’s green land is not a quick buck. Any sensible leader in this city ought to play to the area’s strengths and utilize the city’s green spaces to market this area and make it more appealing, which by default increases the value of property and the quality of living. We for one proposed the alteration of the “Foxy island” space into the public park the council pledged to create, to intensify its beauty and variety of wildlife, not to smack a grim crematorium slap bang in the middle of it complete with a chimney emitting the lifting aroma of death. The existing council is already suffering from a deficit of public trust and popularity, the continuation of this housing aggrandization will only prove to be another nail in Labour’s coffin, and not for that matter in any new crematoriums ever!