Hundreds sign petition opposing plans to convert Grey Horse in Whitburn into convenience store and flats
Plans to convert a former village pub into a shop and flats have been stalled following objections from hundreds of residents.
The Grey Horse in Whitburn has been vacant for several months after pub firm Greene King pushed forward with closure plans in February.
Earlier this year, new owners Grey Horse Inn Ltd revealed plans to transform the site into a convenience store with flats on the upper levels.
Although a planning report recommended the plans for approval, planning officers changed their stance at a meeting this week.
The u-turn was prompted by issues around parking, vehicle access, heritage and the submission of a 506-signature petition opposing the plans.
The petition statement, read to the authority’s planning committee, called for the building to be saved and to “stop developers making quick money out of our village.”
Planning officer, Peter Cunningham, said a deferral would allow planners to consider the petition and further consultation with relevant council officers.
Concerns included increased vehicle trips, access issues for vehicle deliveries at Croftside Avenue and congestion.
On a recent site visit by councillors, the meeting heard a HGV became stuck in Croftside Avenue as the pub car park was full at the time.
As the incorrect parking standard was previously applied for the application, councillors were also told more on-site parking spaces were now needed.
Mr Cunningham told the meeting: “It appears that the proposals will represent a free-for-all in terms of free parking for both existing users within the area and future visitors to the site.
“This is significant at the junction from East Street, it’s quite tight and there is limited space and surrounding space in which to turn around.
“The surrounding streets are also small cul de sacs and there is no through road.”
The Grey Horse is classed as a “locally significant heritage asset” by South Tyneside Council with the building dating back to 1840.
Planners recommended that no work should take place until photographic historic building recording is carried out inside.
However, the meeting heard that the site visit revealed internal works were already at an advanced stage.
Councillors agreed to defer the plans to allow for further information from the applicant and council officers.
Coun Anne Hetherington agreed the plans needed to be fleshed out before a decision could be made.
Coun Peter Boyack, who represents the Whitburn and Marsden ward, also spoke out on the application.
“What we don’t want in the village is another derelict pub and I don’t think the people of Whitburn want to see a derelict building,” he said
“We need to look at this very very carefully.”
The Grey Horse plans are set to come back to the planning committee at a future date.