Cafe and takeaway plans for former South Shields loan shop at The Nook rejected

Proposals for a cafe in South Shields have been refused by council chiefs after clashing with a policy around the ‘overconcentration’ of hot food takeaways.

The building was previously used as a loan shop but has remained vacant for several years.

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Following consultation, the cafe plans sparked around 20 letters of objection with Harton councillor, Rob Dix, also calling the application in for decision.

The former loan shop at 199 Prince Edward Road Picture GoogleThe former loan shop at 199 Prince Edward Road Picture Google
The former loan shop at 199 Prince Edward Road Picture Google

Concerns included the principle of the development, the number of existing hot food takeaways at The Nook shopping parade, parking and other issues.

Although amendments were made to the scheme, the revised plans sparked a further 14 objections from neighbours.

On Monday July 20, the plans were recommended for refusal at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee.

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According to a committee report on the application, approving the cafe would result in more than two hot food outlets adjacent to each other.

As a consequence, the application would clash with a council policy which seeks to “avoid an overconcentration of hot food uses in district shopping centres.”

Planners also confirmed some building works had already taken place at the site without planning permission – with the applicant now applying for ‘retrospective’ permission.

At the meeting, which was held remotely and broadcast live on YouTube in line with social distancing guidelines, a statement from the applicant was read out.

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Councillors heard the business would provide “good quality healthy food” with the applicant also offering to reduce opening times if they were a concern for the council.

The statement noted that there were no objections to the revised proposals from the council’s environmental health or highways teams.

Other points included the property being vacant since 2017 with no interest for retail use over this time and the cafe creating two full-time and two part-time jobs in the economic context of Covid-19.

The statement went on to say: “There are a number of vacant units within The Nook, this undoubtedly is having a negative impact on the vitality and viability of the area.

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“Given the current economic situation, it’s highly possible that more businesses will be forced to close, it’s predicted that the impact of the pandemic on the high street is likely to be severe.”

Planning officer, Peter Cunningham, said the recommendation to refuse the cafe was supported by residents who aimed to protect their amenity and the “vitality of the town centre.”

Committee members also raised concerns about child obesity levels and noted there were several schools in the area, including Harton Academy.

Following discussion, the cafe plans were rejected with a unanimous vote.

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