Proposals have suggested up to 171 homes could be built on the site of the former Hawthorn Leslie works, Hebburn, which has been left vacant following its closure in the 1980s.
Since then, the former boat maker’s on the banks of the Tyne has become a magnet for arson and other antisocial behaviour.
But instead of clearing away the old to make way for the new, documents submitted to the council’s planning department have suggested the remains of the industrial complex, in Ellison Road, could be at the heart of any redevelopment.
A report for consideration by town hall chiefs said: “Aside from the fact that the scheme is now solely residential, a key difference between this and earlier schemes is that a significant part of the existing mudflats and saltmarsh are proposed to be retained in their current form.
“The proposals, as far as practicably possible, seek to make use of existing structures along the river edge in order to provide an interesting form of new development.”
The application has been submitted by consultants Boyer on behalf of Hebburn Riverside Development Ltd, seeking permission for environmental and land assessments to be carried out ahead of more detailed set plans.
This says existing ‘saltmarsh and mudflat habitats’ would be ‘retained and protected’ in any development, but any evidence of invasive Japanese knotweed, which has been found to the south of the site, would be ‘eradicated’.
In June, arson fears at the site, prompted calls by fire chiefs for it to be flattened.
And just a week later firefighters were forced to warn families living nearby to keep their windows shut due to fears over asbestos while they tackled a blaze at the yard.
Since the beginning of 2017, there have been at least 15 fires at the former shipyard, which was branded a death trap in 2009, following a warning over the dangers of youngsters breaking in.
Previous plans to demolish the works were held up the site’s listed status, which was removed in 2014, paving the way for redevelopment.