A DECISION to block an extension to work in a quarry was welcomed by a trio of local councillors who opposed the proposal.

Holystone Civil Engineering sought approval to extend its operation at Houghton Quarry, Houghton-le-Spring, for up to ten years.

The Blaydon-based company has operated a crushing and screening plant within the quarry void, sorting waste into recyclable and non-recyclable materials for the last six years.

Non-recyclable waste has been used to create a ‘development platform’ for a planned ‘employment park’, which was approved by Sunderland City Council, in 2013.

An independent assessment supplied by Holystone, however, stated there is no current demand for the development, due to, “economic uncertainty for construction projects remains likely due to Brexit.”

But under a revised application, the company wanted to continue infilling work at the quarry to increase the height of the development platform, over the next five years.

As part of the plan a new wash plant would remain on site to support the employment park development over the following five years.

The council’s area development control sub-committee deferred a decision in February, but members have now rejected the plan, against the planning officer’s recommendation.

Opposition was voiced over the impact on the green belt, noise, road conditions and the potential to jeopardise a proposed £12m retail park development, on the nearby former Houghton Colliery site.

The council’s strategic property manager agreed, stating the works would impact on, “the success of the colliery site as a retail offer.”

Houghton ward councillors Juliana Heron and Neil Macknight, along with Kevin Johnston, who represents neighbouring Copt Hill, were among those members to speak out against the plans.

Holystone finance manager, Ryan Peddie, said continuing work at the quarry would safeguard existing jobs and create further employment, complimenting regeneration efforts across Wearside.

Subject to the planning approval, the company agreed to install a new improved cleaning facility to remove all waste from vehicles before leaving the quarry site.

Following rejection of the plans, coun Johnston welcomed the outcome after the meeting.

“This is fantastic news for the people of Houghton and I’m so proud this site has finally come to an end.

“We can now look forward to moving on with the exciting plans for Houghton without this holding us back.”

Coun Macknight said the local councillors had been working hard behind the scenes with the goal of defeating the plan.

“It is extremely satisfying to say that we are delivering on the promise to our community and the hard work is paying dividends.”

The quarry was mined for stone for more than 150 years before being used by Biffa Waste as a household waste landfill site from the late 1990s until 2014.