New artisan pizza place approved for The Nook in South Shields at former Barclays Bank branch
A former bank is set for a new lease of life as an ‘authentic wood-fired Italian pizzeria’.
The application said the development will create an “authentic wood-fired Italian pizzeria” offering hand-made Neapolitan pizza with “48-hour proofed dough.”
It added the proposal would have several benefits – from bringing a vacant business unit back into use and creating jobs to “assisting urban regeneration.”
Although the change of use to a restaurant did not require planning permission as a ‘permitted development,’ the plans were called in for decision by a local councillor.
Harton ward representative Cllr Rob Dix raised concerns about The Nook area having “more than its fair share of hot food takeaways.”
He also feared the restaurant would operate mainly as a hot food takeaway, despite being classed as a restaurant offering internal seating.
The plans were recommended for approval by planning officers at a Planning Committee, which was held at South Shields Town Hall on July 19.
Councillors heard that several objection letters had been submitted by neighbours raising concerns about the number of hot food uses within the Harton Nook District Shopping Centre and existing parking pressures.
In a report prepared for the Planning Committee, planning officers clarified that the proposed restaurant could operate with takeaway facilities as long as they were “ancillary to the main restaurant use of the site.”
The report added: “If a significant proportion of the business is takeaway trade, or if the premises was being utilised as a hot food takeaway only, this would require a further change of use planning application.”
During the meeting, councillor Eileen Leask raised concerns about the application on the grounds of parking impacts at ‘The Nook.’
“It’s a very busy shopping centre, people are queuing up to get a parking space and the parking has always been very difficult,” she said.
“Quite honestly, I don’t think there is the capacity to open something else.”
The concerns were shared by councillor Sue Stonehouse who objected on the grounds of traffic congestion, adding the development was “not feasible.”
However, councillors were told that only external works to the building needed planning permission and that a change of use could go ahead regardless.
In this context, the meeting heard that a decision to refuse the application would be difficult to defend if the applicant lodged an appeal.
Although committee members were moving towards refusing the pizzeria plan, the committee did not agree on a valid planning reason to back this up.
Following legal advice, a final vote was taken with the application being approved with seven votes in favour and three against.
Councillor Doreen Purvis, who chairs the Planning Committee, said: “I do realise people do have feelings about this but I think the planning officer has clearly explained that it doesn’t need planning permission for a restaurant.
“If at any time in the future that should change, then it will have to be revisited.”
Planning officers added that the proposed extraction system for the restaurant was acceptable and that any future issues would be picked up by the council’s environmental health department.