CAMPAIGNING homeowners have called on a property developer to take a U-turn – to prevent them being “plunged into darkness”.
Members of the council’s Planning Committee yesterday gave the go-ahead for a three storey, 18-apartment housing plan in Temple Park Road, in South Shields.
The development – on the site of the former Denis Johnston Centre – will be for people over the age of 55.
But residents living in bungalows 33 metres from the site, say it will “dwarf” homes and remove their automatic right to sunlight and daylight.
Now, they are set to hire a specialist solicitor on “right to light” law in a bid to halt the building in its tracks – unless the developer agrees to a compromise.
One suggestion put forward by the protesters is that the building is turned through 180 degrees.
That would mean the building’s car park would then be closest to the bungalows – with the building then being 49 metres from the nearest home.
“That would be a solution,” said retired senior hospital manager John Hall, 66, who is leading the campaign.
He added: “That would cause less lost light and there is no way we could then pursue legal action.
“We are not against the development. It is the proximity to our homes which is the central problem.
“The issue is that they are proposing a three-storey development where there was previously a very low-profile building, and it is right at the boundary of the site.
“The developer has not sought our views before they made a judgement based on their own needs, not those of the residents.
“I think our only recourse now is to take forward our legal right to light through the courts.
“It’s about our right to sunlight, which makes one feel better, especially in the winter months, but it is also the right to light itself, so you can use a room without having to have the electricity and lights on all the time.”
Mr Hall says he felt the development was a “done deal” before he put forward the residents’ case to the Planning Committee yesterday.
Approval for the new development – made up of one and two-bedroom apartments – comes at a time of a shortage in affordable smaller properties in the borough.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “The application for 18 new homes to be built on Temple Park Road was granted planning approval by the Planning Committee in accordance with the council’s planning policy.
“The concerns raised by residents were considered as part of the application. However, property right relating to a ‘right to light’ is not a matter that the Planning Committee can take into account when making decisions about planning applications.”
No-one from Northumberland-based Bomarsund Housing Co-operative was available for comment.