This week, South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee were asked to rule on plans for a huge riverside housing development in the Holborn area.
The hybrid application included full planning permission for phase one residential development for 48 dwellings and outline planning permission for around 300 homes across phases two and three.
However, the phase one proposals sparked opposition from neighbours due to plans to build over a play park and green space between Laygate Street and Commercial Road.
Locals staged several demonstrations to raise awareness of the plans in recent months, with more than 1,000 people also signing a petition in an attempt to save the green space for future generations.
Although applicant Keepmoat Homes Ltd reduced the number of homes on the site and proposed a replacement play park, campaigners have called for phase one of the scheme to go back to the drawing board.
At a crunch meeting to decide the application on Monday, objectors outlined their concerns to the council’s Planning Committee and criticised a consultation exercise carried out by the developer.
Campaigner Leyla Al-Sayadi suggested the housing plans were a “done deal” and clashed with the council’s “so-called climate emergency.”
She said: “That [Keepmoat] questionnaire was a tick box exercise for a predetermined planning application that they were going to put through which is nothing more than a shambolic pretence of democracy.
“We have got a petition with 1,000 signatures on and 370 members in our group and we’re going to be absolutely ignored.”
Councillor Ed Malcolm, ward representative for Simonside and Rekendyke, also spoke out against the application and the impacts as part of phase one.
This included the proposed replacement play park being a “mere shadow of the original” and the loss of an area of open space which is “very special to the Yemeni community.”
Cllr Malcolm said the application could have been postponed to allow “full and meaningful consultation to take place.”
He went on to say: “I firmly believe that the council and such authority as this Planning Committee must protect the integrity of its green values and promise to listen to residents.”
Concerns also came from Port of Tyne bosses regarding the potential impacts of Holborn phase one on the port’s existing operations and ability to deliver future development at Tyne Dock.
This included future residents complaining about noise levels generated at the former McNulty yard site.
Victoria Beattie, the Port of Tyne’s Head of Estates, raised concerns about a noise assessment linked to the application and added that housing in phase one had the potential to “stifle economic development.”
“If this [planning application] is approved today, it will seriously impact South Tyneside benefiting and investors will go elsewhere.”
Keepmoat Homes Ltd and Cussins (North East) Ltd are listed as the official applicants for the housing plans on the Holborn site.
Ian Prescott, Land and Partnerships Director at Keepmoat Homes, said the regeneration scheme would create jobs and benefit South Shields town centre, alongside delivering biodiversity net gain.
Councillors were told that Keepmoat Homes Ltd had also proposed a ‘noise bund’ along the edge of the Port of Tyne’s land to reduce noise pollution.
However, Mr Prescott added that the Port of Tyne had “not engaged with us and not responded to what was submitted.”
According to a report prepared by council planners, objections to the housing plans from 71 different addresses were received.
Despite this, council planning officers deemed the hybrid application acceptable and recommended it for approval.
They added that the land subject to the planning application had been earmarked for regeneration as part of a development plan adopted by the council in 2008.
After being put to the vote, the Planning Committee approved the Holborn scheme with five votes in favour and a single vote against from councillor David Kennedy.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, who has previously backed local campaigners fighting against the housing plans, said she was ‘gutted’ about the decision.