RIVERSIDE residents in South Tyneside are up in arms after work began on a huge industrial shed – 17 years after planning permission was granted.
The 36ft-high structure is being built just yards from their homes in Harbour View, South Shields, and householders were stunned when the steel structure emerged almost overnight at the Tyne Slipway.
It obstructs clear views of the river for people living in the area.
Residents had received no notice of the work on the building – which will be used as a warehouse to carry out repairs to the Shields Ferry and other work for the Port of Tyne.
Now they have been informed that the applicant does not require planning permission – as a previous application had been granted back in 1996.
Peter Hepburn, 73, who has lived in Harbour View for seven years, now looks out at the giant structure from his back window.
He said: “I knew nothing about it until huge trucks arrived, carrying long girders, and they started to assemble it on site.
Apparently the application was agreed in 1996 but, because of the economic situation at the time, or whatever, it never went ahead.”
Although the applicant did not go ahead with the work, the foundations of the structure were laid and, as a result, it was not necessary under law for a new planning bid to be made.
Mr Hepburn added: “I can’t say we are happy about this. The clear view of the river is gone.
“Most of the people around here weren’t here in 1996, and when they bought properties, were not told that this application had been made.
“At the moment there is only one structure, but there are more girders there waiting to be erected.
“After that I believe corrugated plastic will cover it, which will completely block our views.”
A spokesman for the applicant, UK Docks, said: “All I can say is that we have been through all the controls with the planners, and the work meets all the necessary legal requirements.
“All we are doing is going ahead with the previous planning permission.”
A spokesman for ferry owners Nexus confirmed that UK Docks had recently been successful in tendering for maintenance work.
It is believed the slipway is the nearest available to carry out that work.
The alternative would have been to ship the ferries to the River Wear.
n Voice of South Tyneside ... Page 6