Supplementary memorandum by City of Sunderland
Council (NT 21(a))
1. What was the original objective of
Answer: The main objective of the new town was
to provide a new settlement to help stimulate the local economy,
provide additional employment opportunities for the region and
raise the scale and quality of the region's urban development
2. Which of these objectives do you
think have been met?
Answer: It is now 15 years since the New Town
was completed and it is fair to say that a number of the original
objectives have been met for example Washington plays an important
and significant part in the City's and regions economy. The most
notable success has been the Nissan Car Plant which is a very
large regional employer. The town also provides a valuable source
of housing for the region. Whilst the original new town housing
was considered to be high quality at the time of completion much
of it is now in a poor condition and requiring repair. Some of
the villages comprising Washington were built with relatively
high quality materials and these are in a far better state of
repair. It is worth noting that some of the layouts and buildings
in Washington are worthy of retention and protection as they reflect
the principles upon which the town was built.
3. What do you consider to be its role
in the region/sub region in the future?
Answer: Washington has an important role to
play in the future of the region and sub region. It is a major
source of employment and is likely to continue to be so for many
years. It provides the City of Sunderland with the majority of
its economic development land (54 per cent) and is also an important
settlement providing homes for people in the Tyne and Wear area.
4. To what extent is the original masterplan
for the town still used as a guiding principle for development
Answer: The original masterplan is not specifically
used as a tool for guiding development or redevelopment in Washington
as the original masterplan has now been fully implemented. Most
new development adheres to the overall land use patterns which
were prescribed in the masterplan. For example the rigidity of
the existing land use pattern and the road network effectively
guides new development to the locations which were identified
in the original masterplan.
5. How well have the old and new parts
of your town been integrated? If they have not been well integrated
what form does this take in physical/spatial terms and what are
the implications of this for growth of the town?
Answer: The old and new parts of Washington
have not been particularly well integrated for example there are
a number of new areas of housing which form isolated blocks of
residential development that are not closely related to any village
centre and are surrounded by industrial estates. These areas of
development like many of the villages in Washington are reliant
on the car as a means of transport. The new areas of residential
development do not relate to the new town principles or ethos
and do not incorporate innovative layouts or house types this
has the effect of further contributing to the bland townscape
which characterises much of Washington. New industrial and economic
development does relate better to the original new town masterplan.
This is because such developments have been directed to the existing
industrial land allocations which were identified in the masterplan.
In the future it will be increasingly difficult
to make the linkages between newer areas of residential development
and the older original village areas. Such developments also imply
a greater level of segregation between different parts of the
town which will be reinforced unless appropriate measures are
taken to try and improve linkages and connections.
6. Has/can the town achieve the population
that was originally planned?
Answer: The town was originally planned to accommodate
between 70,000 and 80,000 people. The population of Washington
is now approximately 61,700. Therefore the original targets have
not been met. However it should be noted that young age structure
of the population of Washington means that it is particularly
7. How does the age profile of your
population relate to the national average? Is this related to
being a New Town? How do local agencies and strategies respond
Answer: The average age of Washington's population
is much younger than the region or UK average. There is a high
concentration of 0-15 year olds in comparison to other age groups
(26 per cent per head of population). The health, well being and
development of young people were identified as priorities in the
1996-97 City Strategy document. The Council then commissioned
a comprehensive Youth Review which looked at service delivery
and provision. More than 1,500 young people were consulted. In
1998 the Sunderland Youth Review was published by the National
Youth Agency (NYA) in 1998.
The City of Sunderland Partnership in which
the Council plays a lead role, has placed young people as a priority
within its community strategy. A youth strategy, which gives
young people a voice in decision making is also in place. SIB
funding has helped establish "Keyfund" which aims to
give young people the opportunity to find satisfaction from demonstrating
that they can make a constructive contribution to the community.
8. How strong is the demand for the
existing commercial land? Is there demand for further commercial
development in the town? What is the effect of commercial development
in the town on other towns in the sub regional economy?
Answer: Demand remains buoyant in Washington
for commercial land it contains 54 per cent of the City's industrial
land on 16 industrial estates. The Council regularly receives
enquiries about potential commercial uses on land allocated for
economic development. English Partnerships owns a sizeable amount
of commercial land in Washington some of which has been prepared
for future economic use. Much of the commercial land in Washington
is well located in terms of access to the A1 and A19 this makes
it regionally popular with industry and business. Nissan Motor
Manufacturing (UK) Ltd plays a major role in the economy of Washington
and the region. It is estimated that 20,000 jobs throughout the
north east are directly dependent on Nissan. Washingtons commercial
developments therefore have an important positive effect on the
region as a whole.
9. Can you describe the sub regional
planning arrangements that are in place to regulate/facilitate
development? Can you describe the strengths and weaknesses of
the current approach.
Answer: The sub regional planning arrangements
consist primarily of the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) and Regional
Planning Guidance for the North East. The UDP covers all of Washington,
Sunderland and the Coalfields area. The City of Sunderland is
fortunate as unlike many other authorities as it already has an
adopted UDP which is presently being reviewed. This was adopted
in 1998 and is currently undergoing review on a rolling basis
starting with the Housing policies. In the North East, local councils
are closely involved with the process of producing Regional Planning
Guidance. Following publication of a consultation draft in May
1999, draft Regional Planning Guidance was prepared by the Association
of North East Councils in consultation with other regional partners
and has been subject to widespread consultation.
The draft Guidance has been prepared around
the following four key themes:
One of the main criticisms of the planning system
generally and the development plan process is the length of time
it takes to produce up to date plans. The RPG process which will
have an important impact on Washington (Particularly in light
of the Strategic Development site north of Nissan which is being
investigated) is still unadopted and delays are a concern.
10. What is the regional/sub regional
role of the shopping centre in your town? What investment is
proposed in the town centre area in the next few years?
Answer: The Galleries (Washington's main shopping
centre) is the second largest shopping centre (31,000 sq m) in
the City and sixth in Tyne and Wear. Opened in 1974, it was the
first covered centre in the North East and underwent a £2.4
million refurbishment in 1990. The shopping centre is privately
owned therefore the council is limited in investments that can
be made. Proposals for improvements in the shopping function of
the Town Centre will normally originate with the private sector.
11. Can you give some numerical examples
of the problems that have arisen with clawback and covenants in
housing, amenity space and other land uses?
12. The committee has been made aware
that in some cases clawback has made Right to Buy marginal or
even negative, in terms of receipts to the local authority. Has
this been the case in your authority, if so can you give a financial
example? What are the implications of this?
Answer: Information unavailable. Although it
is clear that the Housing Transfer to the Sunderland Housing group
has changed things dramatically and many of the clawback, amenity
space and land uses issues have been resolved as part of the transfer.
13. Can you quantify the outstanding
liabilities facing your authority, firstly as a result of the
package of assets and liabilities transferred to the authority
at the winding up of the Development Corporation, and secondly
as a result of design and other issues relating to the New Town?
Answer: Information unavailable
14. How does the financial value of
the liabilities caused as a result of your town being a New Town,
compare to the financial value of the remaining assets held by
English Partnerships in the town?
Answer: The financial value of the liabilities
exceed the financial value of the remaining assets held by English
Partnerships in the town. EP assets are confined to approximately
11 sites distributed throughout Washington. Much of this land
is allocated for economic development. The cost of maintaining
the new town is considerable and the council bears the burden
15. To what extent has English Partnerships
participated in regeneration partnerships in your town?
Answer: Not a great deal the majority of regeneration
partnerships involve the City of Sunderland, local charities and
organisations, community groups, schools and local residents.
16. Many of the submissions have referred
to the inadequacy of the existing SSA to reflect the needs of
the New Towns. Can you detail those weaknesses and set out any
suggestions about how any successor to the SSA could be improved?
Answer: It is difficult for the council to
separate the money spent on Washington as the Standard Spending
Allocation is for all of Sunderland including Washington.
17. Has the pattern of ownership and
CNT/EP's role had any implications in your ability to develop
a housing strategy for the areas?
Answer: The housing strategy has always taken
on a city wide focus and any mention of Washington has largely
been in relation to initiatives or improvement schemes relating
to the former Council stock (which was transferred to the Council
from the Washington Development Corporation), and with little
emphasis upon new or private housing. The tenure mix of Washington
is different from some other new towns in that it has a good mix
of both private and social housing. The good availability of
affordable social housing is probably another reason why there
has not been a great impact upon the Councils ability to develop
a housing strategy for the Washington area.
18. What is the balance between the
original design/materials used and lack of maintenance/resources
for maintenance in the causes of the poor housing conditions found
in some of the New Towns?
Answer: It is fair to say that in a number of
the villages some of the materials used have not weathered well
and are now in a state of disrepair. However those properties
owned by the Sunderland Housing Group there is now substantial
investment available to improve or fit better materials and redevelop
some areas. The new Washington Housing Company part of the Sunderland
Housing Group plans to tackle outstanding problems in the stock
with £23.2 million in the next five years and a further £111
million over a period of approximately 25 years. However there
are a number of private properties which also require investment
to improve external condition this may be addressed through the
councils forthcoming Private Housing Grant Scheme which will be
introduced later this year.
19. Has your design led to problems
with crime? If so, have you looked at ways to design out crime?
Are there any funding streams currently available to address
this particular problem and if so how successful have you been
at bidding for such funding?
Answer: In some of the villages there are pockets
of higher crime however it is not clear that the specific design
of the villages has led to increase crime. There are issues relating
to security and surveillance of parked cars and street activity
in some villages. There is a problem with poorly illuminated paths
linking villages. The high amount of landscaping which was incorporated
within the new town masterplan now means that there large areas
of shrubbery next to roads and paths which effectively reduce
surveillance. Much of the housing which has been constructed in
the post new town era is typical suburban "cul de sac"
type development which generates many issues relating to safety
20. What are you doing through your
local Transport Plan to address the problems of car dependence?
Does your local Transport Plan include provision for dealing
with issues of design and layout where that promotes car dependence?
Answer: The LTP is primarily a Tyne and Wear
Policy document which puts forward a series of strategy themes
aimed at reducing travel, increasing mode choice, reducing adverse
effects of traffic. The overall aims are to improve the environment.
The LTP does not deal with issues of design
specifically. Development control guidelines are being developed
so that DC officers can request and enforce Travel Plans for large
developments (and specify what exactly the developer needs to
21. Have you introduced or planned any
measures to promote mobility schemes targeted at the old or the
Answer: A Community Transport scheme has been
recently launched to cover North Washington as well as the coalfields
area of the City. This has been funded through the Healthy Living
Centre. In addition there are other voluntary sector transport
schemes operating in Washington and consideration is being given
to co-ordinating those through a brokerage scheme.