PLANS to create holiday units in converted shipping containers on a city’s green belt have been greeted with a storm of protest from residents and environmental groups.
Objectors have called on Durham county councillors to reject proposals for four self-catering units proposed jointly by Unbox Limited and the Poplar Tree Garden Centre in Shincliffe, near Durham.
Shincliffe Green Belt Action Group spokesperson Colin Jubb said: “Not only is the site on protected countryside within the Durham Green Belt it is also in the setting of the village’s conservation area.
“Residents are justifiably appalled by the idea of having converted shipping containers supported on stilts sitting on their doorstep.
“The area is rich in wildlife and has been enjoyed by Durham residents and visitors alike for generations.
“Not only residents but bodies such as the Council for the Protection of Rural England, the Durham Green Belt Group and City of Durham Trust Shincliffe Parish Council all oppose the application, since it is contrary to the policies the county council only approved in 2020.”
He added: “Developments such as this destroy the very thing that people come to the area for in the first place.
“We are determined that this beautiful countryside is protected and remains open and unspoilt for the benefit of all and for generations come.”
Mr Jubb said those opposing the scheme were not against enterprise but the economic benefits of are “limited to a small number of individuals and cannot be used to justify the destruction of the amenity enjoyed by many”.
A joint statement by Unbox Ltd and the Poplar Tree Garden Centre said: “This is a very small and exciting local project to protect and showcase the very best of Durham and make it more accessible for everyone in the most sustainable way with real local benefits.
“The application in Shincliffe is for a total of four one-bedroom lodges only which would use a footprint of only one per cent of the entire field and would completely restore a part that is currently inaccessible.
“It is not part of a phased development. Its aim is actually to improve the Green Belt and make it more accessible for more people to the benefit of Durham as a whole.
“The proposal intentionally leaves the vast majority of the site untouched which would stay exactly the same but with ecological improvements such as over two acres of new wildflower meadow, tree and hedgerow planting along existing footpaths.
“No existing public access would be lost whatsoever, the aim is to improve it. It will create new jobs, contribute to the local economy and attract new visitors to the area without changing how the current space is used and enjoyed.”
Backing has been given by Visit County Durham, Business Durham and City of Durham MP Mary Foy, while there have been no objections from the Environment Agency and Durham’s Landscape and Ecology teams, they add.
“We are the most aware of how sensitive and important the Green Belt is and have done everything we can to create a proposal which not only improves it and keeps it open for everyone, but also allows more people to enjoy it sustainably in a way. which will directly help communities and businesses in Durham.
“There is genuine and significant local support amongst both local residents local businesses, which will directly benefit at a time when sensitive and environmentally conscientious design is needed more than ever to promote the region.”