Headteacher wades in over ‘dangerous’ housing plans - and bemoans loss of school garden opportunity

The site on Black Road, Hebburn
The site on Black Road, Hebburn
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The head teacher at a South Tyneside school has spoken out against a “dangerous” plans to build houses on a nearby plot of land – saying the school could have bought the land and turned it into a garden.

Helen Smith, who heads up St Oswald’s CofE Primary in Hebburn, reacted to the proposals – which have been agreed by the council – to build four homes on a corner plot just 100m from the school in St Oswald’s Road.

St Oswald's CE Primary School headteacher Helen Smith

St Oswald's CE Primary School headteacher Helen Smith

Local councillors have raised concerns about the road safety at the junction with Black Road and Ralph Street - and where children have to cross.

Now Ms Smith has joined the opposition to the build, claiming she was never even told the land was up for sale.

She said: “If we as a school had known the site was up for sale, we could potentially have bought it ourselves and developed it for ourselves and the community as a garden plot.

“The first I knew the land had been sold for residential accommodation was when Coun Adam Ellison told us last week.

If we as a school had known the site was up for sale, we could potentially have bought it ourselves and developed it for ourselves and the community as a garden plot

Helen Smith, head teacher

“As a school we are here to protect our children.

“We have one crossing patrol but it’s three roads meeting at one point. It’s very concerning.”

Ms Smith added: “We knew the land had been cleared and we were told the proposal had four letters of support from residents, because the plot was an eyesore.”

“The only thing that has been there are some dilapidated allotment buildings which were removed recently.”

All three Hebburn North ward councillors united to warn against the project - which they claim could have worrying safety implications. These include a direct threat to pupils as they cross roads on the way to and from school.

Coun Richard Porthouse, Coun Adam Ellison and Coun Liz McHugh fear the homes will reduce visibility for drivers turning on to St Oswald’s Road, where the school is. They also say planned fencing, as well as any vehicles parked outside, could block visibility - increasing the risk of accidents.

In written pleas to South Tyneside Council planners, they warned that the area, including High Lane Row, already has road safety issues. However, they were overruled at a meeting of the council’s planning committee on Monday.