Renovations approved for historic Barnes Institute which has served South Tyneside through two world wars and the Covid pandemic

Renovation works approved for historic Barnes Institute building in Whitburn v.1

The Barnes Institute, which sits in the heart of Whitburn Village, was donated to residents in 1905 by local benefactor Eleanor Barnes, to be used for community activities.

Over the years, the space has been used by a wide range of organisations and is now classed as a charitable incorporated organisation.

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Plans for an overhaul we submitted earlier this year, including new windows and upgrades to existing entrances.

The Barnes InstituteThe Barnes Institute
The Barnes Institute
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According to the plans, the building has been in “constant varied use since its inception” and never closed to the public, even during two world wars, until the Covid-19 pandemic.

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After considering the planning application, South Tyneside Council’s planning department approved it earlier this month.

A decision report by planning chiefs said the changes would be acceptable in terms of heritage and impacts on residential amenity.

It said: “Overall, it is considered that the proposed works would be successful in delivering a degree of uniformity across the property as a whole, making suitable alterations to the property in a manner that is keeping with the original character of the property and the character of the street scene and wider area.

“As a result, the proposals are not considered to cause harm to the character or appearance of the Whitburn Conservation Area.”

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It added: “As the proposals would otherwise merely replace existing windows and doors within the same openings, there is no [reason] for this proposal to result in any significant adverse impacts affecting adjoining neighbours in respect of overlooking, or any other impacts on neighbouring residential amenity.”

The Whitburn Conservation Area Appraisal identifies the Barnes Institute as a “key anchor on the street”, and it is highlighted as an example of ‘arts and crafts movement architecture’.

According to council planners, the building also “played an important part in village life with dances, concerts, meetings and social events”, as well as historically being home to the village library.

Under planning conditions, renovation works must take place within three years.

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For more details on the planning application, visit South Tyneside Council’s online planning portal and search reference: ST/1072/21/FUL