Landowner threatens to pull plug on 144-home housing plan as planning stalemate drags on

Bill Coats standing on the land that is awaiting planning permission. Picture by FRANK REID
Bill Coats standing on the land that is awaiting planning permission. Picture by FRANK REID

A business owner from South Tyneside has urged planners to give the go-ahead to a new housing estate on the borough’s Green Belt border with Gateshead - to end an almost two-year stalemate.

Bill Coats says he is prepared to block the proposed 144 homes scheme at the former Wardley Colliery site, close to Whitemare Pool, if a decision is not made soon.

Mr Coats, 65, from Cleadon Village, owns the majority of a nine acre plot which he and an adjoining business want to sell to house builder Persimmon.

They plan to gift a further five acres to Gateshead Council - to be incorporated into an existing, publicly-accessible forest park.

Persimmon filed an official planning bid with the council in July 2016 but committee meetings in January and February 2017 failed to decide the application.

Gateshead Council is understood to be examining the plan again next month - which Mr Coats warns could be its final chance to act.

He is considering reopening the vehicle reclamation business he opened at the site in the early 1970s but wound down 18 months ago, if progress is not made.

Mr Coats said: “This is all proving to be very frustrating and I am losing a lot of money by my business not operating.

“There is widespread support for this proposal from residents living nearby, and from local ward councillors.

“At the moment, parts of the site are subject to flytipping and vandalism, it really needs to be developed.”

He added: “The proposal has twice been put on hold by the planning committee at Gateshead Council, it’s been brought up and talked about but then nothing has been done.

“If we don’t get at least outline planning permission at the next committee meeting, then I will have to reopen the business.

“This is not something that anyone really wants but we have all been very patient – financially, something has to happen.”

Although situated within Green Belt, both businesses operate on land classed as brownfield and which has permission to be used for industrial purposes.

South Tyneside Council has officially opposed the scheme, which it claims conflicts with Green Belt policy and could impact on highways management.

Gateshead Council fears it would encroach upon the strategic Green Belt gap that separates the two local authority areas.

It also claims the project would significantly increase recreational usage of the adjacent Wardley Manor Local Wildlife Site, in turn heavily impacting on its ecological value.

Mr Coats said the granting of outline planning on Green Belt would lead to the project automatically being examined by the government, which would then decide if it could go ahead.