Anger over plans to demolish historic structure on South Shields riverside

Mill Dam resident Stephen Robertson is concerned over the council's plans to demolish the boundary wall
Mill Dam resident Stephen Robertson is concerned over the council's plans to demolish the boundary wall

A historic site on South Tyneside’s riverside could be demolished if planning chiefs give the green light.

Staithes House and its adjacent boundary wall are the subject of a planning application submitted to South Tyneside Council.

Mill Dam boundary wall and the Staithes House, which the Council are going to demolish.

Mill Dam boundary wall and the Staithes House, which the Council are going to demolish.

Permission is being sought by Tim Hickes, whose agent is AECOM Infrastructure & Environment UK, to demolish Staithes House, retaining its Mill Dam façade only, and the adjacent boundary wall.

However, the plans have hit a nerve with one resident, who is calling for the council to preserve at least the wall.

Stephen Robertson, who lives at the Mill Dam and volunteers with the North East Maritime Trust, says he feels taking away the wall would have a “detrimental effect” on the look of the area.

Mr Robertson said: “While Staithes House is probably beyond repair, I just feel the boundary wall should be retained.

Knocking this down will take some of our history away

Stephen Robertson

“Knocking this down will take some of our history away. It is such a great wall and helps to retain the old world feel of the area – which would be lost without the wall.

“If you remove the wall, you will totally open the area out, and from the river you will see a line of parked cars, instead of a tidy and beautiful wall.

“I just don’t see why it can’t stay. It just seems we are wanting to keep getting rid of our past.”

It is understood the demolition is aimed at furthering the development of the town centre but what will be placed on the site has not yet been decided. Staithes House was built to house the washing and locker facilities for Harton Low Staithes’ engine drivers and coal-handlers.

Mill Dam boundary wall and the Staithes House, which the Council are going to demolish.

Mill Dam boundary wall and the Staithes House, which the Council are going to demolish.

When contacted by the Gazette, AECOM referred the matter to the Homes & Communities Agency.

A spokesman for HCA, which inherited the site from One North East, said: “We are looking to demolish Staithes House to make it easier for the site to be sold on and developed by someone else.

“There is also health and safety implications due to Staithes House being derelict. The idea is for the wall to remain, in the short term, but it could be replaced with something more suitable in the longer term.

“By clearing the site, it will hopefully make the area more interesting to more developers, who may not have taken it on if they thought they would have the added cost of demolition, so we are taking care of that.

Mill Dam boundary wall and the Staithes House, which the Council are going to demolish.

Mill Dam boundary wall and the Staithes House, which the Council are going to demolish.

“We are continuing to work with our partners at South Tyneside Council.”

No one at South Tyneside Council was available for comment.

Mill Dam boundary wall and the Staithes House, which the Council are going to demolish.

Mill Dam boundary wall and the Staithes House, which the Council are going to demolish.