Hundreds of new homes, cafe, restaurant and other facilities planned for 'death trap' former Hawthorn Leslie shipyard in Hebburn

Hundreds of new homes have been proposed for the derelict site of a once proud South Tyneside shipyard.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 12:35 pm
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 12:37 pm

The Hawthorn Leslie yard at Hebburn closed in 1982 and its buildings haven’t been used since, becoming a magnet for deliberate fires and antisocial behaviour.

The situation became so bad the site was branded a 'death trap’ with calls for derelict buildings to be demolished. Plans were submitted in 2019 for 171 homes on the site.

Previous plans to demolish the works were held up the site’s listed status, which was removed in 2014, paving the way for redevelopment.

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Sweeping plans would transform the former shipyard site into a new, modern community if approved

Now proposals have been lodged for 448 on the site, which was once a major part of the river’s long shipbuilding and repair history.

Hebburn Riverside Development’s Ltd has asked South Tyneside Council for planning permission for the development, which would see vacant shipyard buildings will be pulled down to make way for a mixture of studio apartments, and one, two, three, four and five-bedroom homes.

These homes will spread out across 13 blocks and will be 12 studio apartments, 130 one-bedroom apartments and 256 two-bedroom apartments.

How the new development might look

There will also be two three-bedroom apartments, and seven four-bedroom apartments.

The scheme will also feature “traditional” family homes in the form of five three-bedroom houses, seven four-bedroom houses and 29 five- bedroom houses.

There are also plans for a restaurant, cafe and convenience store or community facility.

A pavilion at the heart of the development will act as a community space and adjacent to this will be an orchard and “grow your own” garden.

How the new development might look

A design and access statement submitted to the authority said the layout of the project pays tribute to the site’s heritage.

It said: “The juxtaposition of rows of terraced houses, generally inclined towards the shipyards, with the huge ships under construction creates an intriguing contrast. The overall site layout responds to this historicjuxtaposition of scale.”

The document also said that those attending a consultation event were told that the empty buildings had become “structurally hazardous” and the site was “contaminated” because of its industrial past.

It said: “Due to the extremely high costs of demolition, decontamination and reclamation a residential scheme was put forward as a proposal that could cover the abnormal costs of site reclamation.”

Aftermath of Hawthorn Leslie fire, Ellison Street, Hebburn, in June 2019.

The authority will decide on the application at a later date and neighbouring North Tyneside Council has also been asked for feedback.

The history of the Hebburn yard stretches back 165 years to the launch of its first ship, the auxiliary steam sailing vessel Clarendon.

More than 700 ships were started life on the yard, with a Second World War workforce numbering 6,000.

In its day it was the birthplace of world firsts, including in 1891 the first steam turbine-powered warship, HMS Viper, with engines built to the design of Tyneside’s Sir Charles Parsons.

Hawthorn Leslie was Hebburn’s last working shipyard when it closed in 1981. The site was bought by ship repairers the A&P Group in 2001, but was later sold to MMC Developments in 2004.

MMC went into administration in 2017 and according to a report by administrators the company’s ‘land at Hebburn’, as it was referred to, was valued at £900,000, but expected to fetch just £250,000 at sale.

Picture from November 1963. One of the two 50-ton pressure cargo tanks being fitted into the 535-ton motor vessel Broughty as part of its conversion into a liquid gas carrier at Hawthorn Leslie (Shipbuilders) Ltd., Hebburn. being lifted aboard the ship by the floating crane Titan II.

A subsequent administrator’s report, filed with Companies House early this year said the ‘South Tyneside dry dock’ had been sold for £350,000, leaving creditor Natwest £934,126 out of pocket.

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Aftermath of a fire at Hawthorn Leslie, Ellison Street, Hebburn, in June 2019