Appeal after plans refused for apartments at former church and auction rooms in Jarrow
Controversial plans to demolish a fire-damaged former auction house and church to make way for apartments are set to be decided by a Government-appointed planning inspector.
South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee rejected plans in 2022 for the former Park Methodist Church, off Bede Burn Road, in the Jarrow area.
The building, which was most recently used as an auction house, has been vacant since a fire caused extensive damage in November, 2017, leading to the collapse of the roof structure.
Proposals from applicant Premier Leisure aimed to clear the site and construct an apartment complex with parking and associated works.
However the plans sparked huge public opposition with more than 430 written objections submitted to council planning officials.
Concerns ranged from the modern design clashing with the surrounding area, increased traffic and highway safety issues, to potential impacts on local wildlife and loss of privacy and local heritage.
At a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee in September, 2022, a majority of councillors voted to reject the proposal.
The decision was taken against the advice of council planning officers, who had deemed the scheme acceptable and recommended it for approval subject to conditions.
A committee report presented to decision-makers at the time said much of the building’s “architectural heritage significance” had been lost due to fire damage and that applicants maintained it would be “financially unviable to reconstruct and convert to residential accommodation”.
Council planners also noted that the building did not benefit from national listed status and was not located within a conservation area.
It has been confirmed that the applicant has challenged the council refusal decision and submitted an appeal to the national Planning Inspectorate.
As the process continues a planning inspector is expected to be appointed by the Secretary of State to rule on the matter, which could lead to the council’s refusal decision being upheld or thrown out.
An official council refusal notice notes the apartment complex’s design, scale, massing and appearance as the main reason the plans were turned down.
This includes the development “not being conducive to the existing character of this area” and being “incongruous and out of keeping” with existing residential properties near the site.
An appellent statement, published on the council’s website, criticised council meeting procedures and Planning Committee members for “ignoring” the recommendations and guidance of planning officers.
It also noted that an application for costs had been made to the local authority to cover the “cost of employing a consultant to prepare this appeal”.
The appellant statement adds: “Members of the Planning Committee had unfettered access to the officer report and the professional advice provided therein that was clear, concise, and founded on material considerations.
“The appellant is of the opinion [that] the members’ objections to the proposed development are subjective and do not reflect planning policy in the National Planning Policy Framework or the South Tyneside LDF (Local Development Framework)”.
An update on the appeal will be published on the Planning Inspectorate’s website once a decision has been made.
For more information on the planning application and appeal, visit South Tyneside Council’s online planning portal and search reference: ST/0040/21/FUL