Saturday, August 05, 2006

Greenbelt saved!

Regional Spatial Strategy saves further Labour blushes!

The controversial plan to build an industrial park at Fellgate, South Tyneside, is now "dead in the water" according to the Leader of the Council, Paul Waggott.

The plan, which was the Council's "preferred option" cannot now go ahead because of the publication of the new Regional Spatial Strategy which has declared that the greenbelt separating South Tyneside from Sunderland and Gateshead must remain as it is. The Council seemed to be quite adamant that their preferred option would go ahead , the "carrot" of a possible 10,000 jobs was just too much to resist, and this was despite the manner in which the planning raised the hackles of local residents. Typical "consultations" took place, i.e. meetings were held involving planning officers armed with a good "pitch" to sell the development to the people of Fellgate. The temperature was raised by so much that long standing Labour ward Councillor Edith Battye was firmly defeated by the Independant Steve Harrison at the local elections. Much was made of the fact that ward representatives, the Council Leader, and Deputy Leader appeared unwilling to back the residents (and Friends of the Earth) in their battle to save our open green spaces.

So Labour's blushes have been saved by this latest development and Labour Leader Paul Waggott had this to say;

"The inspector has decided to take the business park scheme out of the Green Belt site.
The scheme was the council's initial preferred option, because we could not ignore something which could have potentially created 10,000 jobs.
But from a personal point of view, I'm pleased the inspector has listened to all the concerns from residents and the letters myself and Coun Moira Smith have put forward on behalf of local people.
Speaking personally, I'm now going to argue the case that the scheme is dead in the water."

It all sounds rather rich considering that the residents received no backing at all during their protests, definately one eye on the next local elections!

So will the Council now heed the advice that I posted in January of this year and either go for an improved industrial park on brownfield land at Monkton or develop the newer plan in partnership with Gateshead for a brownfield site at Wardley?


Shields Gazette

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