Mandale Meadow: Fight continues to save meadow from controversial spine road

A campaigner has urged people not to lose faith as the campaign continues to save Mandale Meadow from a controversial spine road.

Gill Sullivan has been fighting plans for any development through the field since 2018. On Tuesday (Jun 6), she was speaking at a public meeting, organised by CPRE, the countryside charity, at the Jack Hatfield Sports Club in Acklam, near Middlesbrough.

The campaigner, who is in her sixties, called on others to persuade friends and family that the area needs to remain as it is so future generations could enjoy the space.

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A masterplan signed off by the council twelve months ago lays out proposals for 1,670 homes, a country park, shops, and a primary school on the former farmland to the south of Mandale Meadow. Avant Homes and Miller Homes want to build 600 houses, a local centre, a country park, and a link road, while Story Homes want to construct 800 homes, a village hub and primary school at Stainsby Hall North.

Mandale MeadowMandale Meadow
Mandale Meadow

The most controversial part of the masterplan is the proposal for a spine road, which is also in the 2014 Local Plan, that would connect Jack Simon Way to Mandale Road/ Acklam Road. The council’s preferred route is for the road to go along the western edge of Mandale Meadow.

Campaigners are worried that the road could potentially lead to a loss of wildlife. The council has previously said that any planning application will require an accompanying ecological assessment.

Ms Sullivan said: “Talk to your friends and family, get them to the point where they say ‘yes we need to keep this for our children’. I have three grandchildren and I started this off crying on Mandale field in 2018.

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“Crying my heart out every time I went over there. This fella said to me ‘are you alright pet’. I said ‘I’m not, I’m mourning Mandale field’. I had a choice I could continue crying or I could try and do something about it. I am absolutely furious the way residents have been treated. It is not right and it’s not decent. We have to have a voice.”

Ms Sullivan wants the community to continue to contact the local authority over their concerns about the plans for the land. She added: “Anger is not going to win the day here, what’s going to win the day is steady, straight messages to Middlesbrough Council.

“We value our green spaces and you are not just going to take them willy-nilly without telling us what you are doing. This is our community, we should have as much say as anybody else.”

Ms Sullivan concluded: “We just have to keep going, don’t lose heart, don’t lose faith, we just have to keep going and perseverance can sometimes win the day.”

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The council has previously stated that notices were put up around the site with 28 days allowed for public comments and it was also placed in the Teesside Gazette. The signs alerted people to the “council’s intention to dispose of and re-appropriate the land at Mandale/Rear of Heythorpe Drive.”

There have not been any planning applications submitted for the former farmland south of Mandale Meadow. However, developers have taken the first steps in the planning process after submitting two separate screening opinion requests to the council for the land at Stainsby.

This is to confirm whether an environmental impact assessment (EIA), which has to be undertaken if a development will have a significant impact on the environment, is required. The council has ruled that neither of the Stainsby developments will need an EIA.

At the meeting, potential next steps were discussed. This included creating a neighbourhood plan and having the land designated as green space in a bid to stop development.

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However, both of these options have the potential to run into difficulties, especially if planning permission is granted before they happen. The government has made clear that neighbourhood plans cannot “constrain the delivery of a strategic site allocated for development in the local plan or spatial development strategy.”

The site, including the road through Mandale Meadow, is allocated for development in the 2014 Local Plan. It is also significantly more challenging to designate land as a local green space, which ensures special protection from development in important community areas, once planning permission is granted.

Government guidance states: “Local Green Space designation will rarely be appropriate where the land has planning permission for development. Exceptions could be where the development would be compatible with the reasons for designation or where planning permission is no longer capable of being implemented.”