Shields bedsits plan thrown out

BEDSIT-LAND FEARS ... Beach Road in South Shields.
BEDSIT-LAND FEARS ... Beach Road in South Shields.

TOWN Hall councillors say it is time to “take a stand” over a prominent South Tyneside street turning into a ‘bedsit land’.

Members of the council’s planning committee have thrown out plans for 13 studio flats in Beach Road, South Shields, over fears it could become a “doss house”.

The decision comes after concerns were raised that so-called ‘homes of multiple occupancy’ in the street were lowering the tone of the area.

One councillor even compared the proposal as “one up from garage dwellers in London”.

Committee chairman Coun John Wood, who represents the Beacon and Bents ward, said: “We have responsibility to protect the people of the borough with regard to what is taking place in Beach Road.

“There is a trend towards piling as many people as possible into these properties and the council has to take a stand.”

Fellow Labour councillor Gladys Hobson compared the latest flats plan to the “garage dwellers” in London.

She said: “We should not be encouraging people to live in conditions like this. It is only one up from garage dwellers in London.

“The application involves people living in one room, literally on top of each other, each one playing TVs and music. It would be a nightmare. I am puzzled why this application even got this far.

“It is a gross over-development. This has always been a building for office and commercial use and should not be converted.

“We have enough problems with houses of multiple occupancy in Beach Road.”

An objection to the proposal was also received from a service in Beach Road supporting victims of domestic violence – Impact Family Services – claiming the conversion would “deter people from using our services”.

Planning officers had supported the conversion of the listed building, the former site of a taxi office and solicitor’s office.

Gordon Atkinson, council planning manager, said there was high-demand for such self-contained units. But as Mr Atkinson was presenting the application, a man in the public gallery shouted: “It’s going to be a doss house, man.”

The same concerns were echoed by Labour’s Coun Bob Watters, who added: “Beach Road has been an integral part of the town’s commercial hub. This application threatens the ambience of well-established buildings in that area.”

Coun Hobson added: “There are only two parking spaces and 13 proposed residents. Last, but not least, there are no fire escapes.

“This building would be a death trap.”

The applicant behind the development is a Mr S. Dronfield, of Princess Street, Corbridge, Northumberland. He was unavailable for comment.