Housing plans approved for 'eyesore' industrial unit up historic lane in Whitburn
and live on Freeview channel 276
South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee recently approved an application for a vacant site referred to as the former ‘Crystal Creations’ near Chicks Lane and North Guards.
The village building has had several industrial uses, including a glass workshop and a car mechanic garage, but is now partially demolished.
In recent years, South Tyneside Council approved plans for three dwellings at the site.
A further planning application was submitted in 2022 for five three-storey dwellings, however, this was withdrawn by the applicant and a new scheme was submitted with reduced “scale and massing”.
The new planning application aimed to retain and redevelop the existing industrial building structure and bring forward a development offering five two-storey terraced dwellings.
Plans also included the demolition of a ‘lean-to’ garage at Chicks Lane, with the wider development served by dedicated undercroft parking and a separate car port.
During a council consultation exercise on the plans, around eight objections were submitted raising concerns about the development.
This included impacts on residential amenity, privacy and highway safety and questions about design and drainage issues, as well as potential impacts on the local conservation area and ecology.
One comment said the plans would “replace the visual blight of the old factory with a far more unacceptable intrusion”.
Another comment said that the proposals were “maximising the occupancy mass at the expense of the existing residents” and that the number of residential ‘units’ should be reduced to three.
During the planning application process, the plans were amended to remove some balcony elements in a bid to reduce privacy impacts.
Arguments for and against the final proposals were put forward at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee at South Shields Town Hall on October 23, 2023.
A speaker on behalf of objectors said the proposed development was “imposing” and could create overshadowing impacts.
It was also noted that the density of the scheme could see a large number of new residents living in the area, along with associated highway safety impacts from increased numbers of cars.
The applicant, who also spoke at the town hall meeting, said keeping the existing structure, rather than demolishing it, would reduce the carbon footprint of the development.
The applicant also said the current site was an “eyesore” and that new housing would “add value to the Whitburn area”.
After being put to the vote, committee members agreed unanimously to approve the housing plan, with some noting that it would transform an “eyesore” site.
Councillor Stephen Dean said: “If it had been the other way round and it was [plans for] building a factory I would have surely objected to this.
“But for me, this is a case where we’re getting rid of an absolute eyesore and it’s providing accommodation for people that is needed in the area”.
Councillor Shirley Ford agreed with the site being redeveloped but raised concerns about the proposed access, as well as questions about drainage arrangements for the scheme.
Council planners said there had been no objections from highways officers and that drainage would be monitored by a planning condition.
Councillor Sarah McKeown also questioned whether the plans represented overdevelopment, but council planners confirmed that, in their view, five dwellings and proposed parking would be acceptable.
The Planning Committee decision was in line with a recommendation from council planning officers, who had deemed the scheme acceptable and recommended it for approval.
It was noted that the proposals would be acceptable in relation to “highway safety, impact on ecology, trees, archaeology, contaminated land and drainage and flood risk”.
Specific reference was also made to ‘private rights of access’ between the applicant and nearby residents being a “legal matter which would need to be resolved between both parties directly”.
A report prepared for councillors added: “The proposed development would contribute towards the borough’s housing delivery, on a previously developed site within a highly sustainable location.
“It is considered that the proposed development would improve the appearance of a site which is described within the Whitburn Conservation Area Character Appraisal as particularly inappropriate.
“The scale, form and materials proposed for the dwellings are considered to respect the special character and appearance of the Whitburn Conservation Area and the development is not considered to give rise to any significantly detrimental impacts on the residential amenities of the occupiers of the neighbouring properties”.
More information about the development can be found on South Tyneside Council’s website.