Decision day for controversial South Shields marina plan as row rumbles on over riverside access

Plans for a ‘pontoon-based marina facility’ in South Shields could be given the go-ahead next week, despite concerns from neighbours.
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Proposals submitted to South Tyneside Council said the ‘small marina facility’ could provide opportunities for watersports and community organisations.

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Applicants added that the development would enhance the area and generate a small amount of parking demand and had been designed to minimise noise disruption to residents.

The site in question.The site in question.
The site in question.

The planning application also falls against the backdrop of an access dispute after part of the riverside walkway at Long Row, next to the application site, was gated off.

The route forms part of the England Coast Path.

According to the national trails website mapping out the route, a diversion is listed at Long Row, South Shields, stating the route has “become obstructed by a property renovation project.”

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Campaigners have previously called for the route to be reopened to the public – a drive which was recently backed by South Shields MP, Emma Lewell-Buck.

An online petition calling for the route to be reopened has also exceeded 1,000 signatures.

South Tyneside Council said it had never owned the land in question and that the planning application only relates to the proposed pontoon and not land ownership, stressing that the “two matters should not be confused.”

‘Shock’ over access

Campaigners said they were “shocked” the planning hearing is going ahead when discussions on the access issues are still taking place.

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A decision on the planning application, which includes a pontoon, wave break and access ladder, is expected to be made by councillors at a meeting on Monday, March 15.

According to planning papers, applicants have said the development would be used for users of it to store boats and there would be “no major maintenance of outlift facilities.”

A planning report adds the council has received a “substantial level of representations” both for and against the proposal.

This includes 139 representations in support and 90 objections, with several statements set to be read out at the meeting.

Campaigners have also raised concerns about proposed security fencing / gates indicated on submitted plans, which they say would “restrict access to the England Coast Path even further.”

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In a report, planners have said that the gate works could be carried out in isolation without needing to apply for planning permission, as a ‘permitted development’, provided they do not exceed two metres in height.

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council added: “Whilst we understand the frustrations and inconvenience of not being able to use the walkway, the land has never been in council ownership and has never been a public right of way.

“South Tyneside Council has been helping campaigners with their enquiries and is currently liaising with Natural England regarding a diversion of the England Coast Path.

“The planning application only relates to the plans for the pontoon. The two matters should not be confused.

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“While public speaking rights are currently suspended from Planning Committee meetings at this time due to covid, interested parties can still address the committee directly via written statements which are read out.

“However, planning applications are still publicised in the normal way and any written comments made to the council in respect of applications are still carefully considered as part of the planning decision making process with a decision reached in accordance with planning policy.”

The plans have been recommended for approval by planning officers.

However, the final say on the planning application rests with members of the Planning Committee, which will meet on Monday March 15 from 10.30am.

The meeting will be held via videolink and broadcast on South Tyneside Council’s YouTube channel.

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