Lawe Top apartment complex is latest plan for overgrown former St Aidan’s Church site in South Shields

Proposals for an apartment complex on a long-vacant former church site in South Shields have been submitted to council planning chiefs.

South Tyneside Council has received a new planning application for a parcel of land off St Aidan’s Road in the Beacon and Bents ward.

The site on the Lawe Top was the former home of St Aidan’s Church which was cleared in the early 2000s, with the land remaining as grassed open space.

Over the years, a number of planning applications have been made to redevelop the site as housing, including one application for apartments which was refused.

New plans are in for the former church site.

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A new application registered in September, 2022, represents a fresh bid to build apartments on the vacant land.

This includes proposals for a new-build four-storey apartment block with a total of 14 apartments, as well as covered secure car parking and associated hard and soft landscaping.

The overall housing mix would be ten two-bed apartments, two three-bed apartments and two three-bed penthouse apartments with “terrace areas”.

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St Aidan's Church at the Lawe Top, before its demolition.

The applicant is listed in planning documents as St Aidan’s Court (South Shields) Ltd.

A design and access statement prepared for the applicant claims the plans would infill the “awkward gap in the streetscape” and that the site’s “steep sloping topography” would be used to provide “undercroft car parking”.

This includes 28 parking bays, including one disabled space, with access taken from the west elevation of the building off Henry Nelson Street — with visitor parking and cycle storage also provided.

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In addition, a planning and heritage statement claims the development would not “materially harm the surrounding properties in terms of outlook, privacy or overshadowing”.

How the site looks today.

Developers say this is because of the building’s “location within the application site, its proposed finished floor levels and its intended massing and siting of openings relative to those of the existing properties surrounding the site”.

The planning and heritage statement adds: “The building has been carefully designed with a four-storey vertical scale that would take advantage ofthe existing site topography.

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“Due to the ground level and topography of the site, the ground floor is onestorey lower than the existing terraced houses opposite and, as such, the proposal would not be out of keeping with the scale and height of the buildings in the surrounding area.

“The third floor of the proposed building would be set back from the front elevation in order to reduce its scale and minimise the impact on the perspective of the passing public from pavement level.”

How the site looks today.

Previous planning applications for apartments on the former church site have included a bid for 26 apartments which was withdrawn in 2005 and a bid for 20 apartments which was refused in 2006.

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A further planning bid for six houses and three apartments was approved in 2007, but the planning permission was never implemented.

A decision on the new apartment complex scheme is expected to be made once a period of council consultation has concluded.

For more information on the apartment plans, visit South Tyneside Council’s online planning portal and search reference: ST/0592/22/FUL