Green light for car park improvement works at Souter Lighthouse complex

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Plans to upgrade a South Tyneside car park have been approved.

Plans to upgrade the car park of a major South Tyneside visitor attraction have been given the green light by borough development bosses.

South Tyneside Council’s planning department has approved an application for the Souter Lighthouse complex off the Coast Road between South Shields and Whitburn.

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The National Trust, which manages the heritage site, lodged an application last year for permission to improve the popular car park near the lighthouse complex.

According to a design and access statement submitted to council officials at the time, the Souter Lighthouse welcomes around 20,000 visitors per year, with a further 50,000 using the car park to visit Whitburn Coastal Park and The Leas.

It is understood that the car park was first constructed more than 30 years ago and since then, a number of repairs have been carried out to “maintain it as a useable space”.

Souter LighthouseSouter Lighthouse
Souter Lighthouse

New plans aimed to “improve the visitor experience of the existing car park without impacting the existing look or feel of the area”.

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Submitted plans said the current car park is surfaced in a “variety of finishes which include tarmac and loose stone of at least two different colours”, with proposed works including a hard surface and around 60 marked parking spaces.

The new surface material would be a “dense-graded bituminous macadam (DBM) which would match the current road surface leading to the car park”.

Proposals for the resurfaced car park also included a kerbed perimeter and lined bays, as well as “soakaways” to improve drainage.

During a council consultation exercise on the plans, no neighbour representations were submitted.

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After considering the planning application and assessing it against planning policies, South Tyneside Council’s planning department approved it on April 19, 2024.

Council planners, in a decision report, noted the existing car park was constructed in 1989 and installed with a “compacted aggregate”, and that several repairs have taken place since.

The resurfaced car park would include marked car parking spaces, two disabled bays, two bus bays and a cycle parking bay with cycle storage.

It was confirmed that there “would be no expansion to the footprint of the car park and the parking bay numbers will remain consistent”.

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Council planning officers said the plans would be acceptable in the Green Belt and in terms of ecology, subject to conditions and mitigation measures, as well as “continuing to provide a facility that would conserve and enhance the character of the undeveloped coast as a high-quality natural environment and resource for biodiversity and outdoor recreation”.

It was also argued that the plans would not “undermine the significance of the heritage assets” and on drainage issues, “would not add to existing site runoff or cause any adverse impact to neighbouring properties and the surrounding environment”.

The council decision report added: “The proposed development would not develop a new car park, rather resurface an existing car park, which has been operational for a considerable time. 

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“As such the proposal would not result in the loss of open space within the Whitburn Coastal Park. 

“The works would have no material impacts on the quality and amenity value of the open space, with mitigation and reinstatement of grass/turf”.

Those behind the scheme previously said the scale and extent of car park works aimed to “carefully balance the needs and expectations of visitors with the need to conserve and enhance the natural and historic environment”.

Council planners noted that the car park proposals would also help to serve the newly constructed Whitburn Coastal Conservation Centre.

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Under planning conditions, the works must be brought forward within three years.

For more information on the planning application or council decision, visit South Tyneside Council’s planning portal website and search reference: ST/0664/23/FUL.

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