'˜Fight ahead' over plans to demolish South Shields school

A councillor has warned of a '˜fight ahead' after plans were unveiled for the demolition of a derelict South Tyneside comprehensive school.

Monday, 18th June 2018, 8:52 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 2:35 pm
Former chairman of Harton Moor Residents' Association Ken Mitchell

Jim Foreman said the razing of Brinkburn secondary school could pave the way for the sell-off of huge adjoining playing fields for housing.

The site, off Temple Park Road and Harton Lane, South Shields, also houses Brinkburn Charitable Interest Organisation (BCIO) and an enclosed outdoor sports zone.

Neither forms part of South Tyneside Council’s newly-submitted demolition proposal.

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However, the BCIO has yet to secure a planned 40-year lease from South Tyneside Council to stay on site, and the sports area is council-owned.

Although no planning application for housing has been submitted, Coun Foreman said he expected the area earmarked for demolition and the fields to eventually be sold off for development.

But he warned any move to also include the BCIO, previously called Brinkburn Community Centre, in future building plans would be opposed.

He said: “Thirty-five per cent of the site has to be retained by the community centre but the rest will be sold off for housing, I imagine, but there are no concrete plans.

“If I were a betting man then I would say it will be the entire site, down to Temple Park Road.

“The ball court is not part of the demolition plans, but it is part of plans for when the fields are gone. There is nowhere else on site that it could go – that’s a real fear.”

Coun Foreman added: “A huge number of teams play on these fields, including triathlon, football and rugby.

“I don’t know where else they would go, because there is not the space in South Tyneside to relocate them.

“The centre has baths, gyms and a drama hall, and it is imperative that the community gets the opportunity to use them.

“There is probably another fight to come if ever they did try to sell it.”

Council planners have applied to pull down three eyesore and boarded-up blocks of the former Mcanany Avenue school, which closed about a decade ago.

It is believed the existing entrance to the BCIO on Harton Lane would be relocated to Mcanany Avenue and a new car park built.

Ken Mitchell, 63, a Harton Moor resident and former chairman of the area’s residents’ association, believes the sports zone will go and the fields turned over to housing.

The court was paid for with £33,000 raised by residents, ward councillors and police in a bid to tackle the anti-social behaviour which once blighted the area.

Mr Mitchell said: “I’ve still got my fears that the boarded ball court will be pulled down.”

He added: “The demolition of the school buildings will be the first step to building all over the field.”