Row over plans to demolish burned-out former Jarrow church and auction rooms and replace it with new apartment complex
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What had previously been Park Methodist Church on Bede Burn Road, was home to the Jarrow Auction Rooms company when it caught fire in the early hours of November 24, 2017.
The building first opened its doors to worshippers in 1895, but has been a fenced-off shell since the fire. The property is not listed, although it does feature on South Tyneside Council’s list of “Locally Significant Heritage Assets”.
The council has received an application from the building’s owners, Premier Leisure Ltd, asking for full planning permission to demolish it and convert it into a five-apartment building with ground-floor parking.
The company says the development will benefit the area, but some residents, including Cllr Geraldine Kilgour, say the plans are profit motivated as demolition would be cheaper than restoration and that the apartments are not right for the area.
Adam Naylor is a quantity surveyor who has lived nearby all his life. He is very unhappy with the application and is urging the council to reject it.
He said: “It’s demolishing what is an historic part of the town. That’s unacceptable in itself. It’s a beautiful church and the plans are not in-keeping with the area.
“It’s going to have a terrible effect on the living environment too. We’ve got lots of wildlife living behind the church in West Park. This would create bedlam for wildlife and in turn affect the residents. Then there are parking issues.
“This is one of the most desirable parts of Jarrow. The public backlash is already evident. We were under the impression it was going to be a conversion, not a demolition.
“If it wasn’t safe it would be demolished already. As a QS I know what can be done. The building is rock solid.”
But Premier Leisure have defended their application.
Director Tony Singh said: “It’s bringing new housing to the area that is needed and it’s much better than a burned-out building. The building can’t stay as it is.”
Residents have until Thursday, March 4, to comment on the application and can do so at www.southtyneside.gov.uk