Work on £8.4m Metro training centre in South Shields causing a 'living hell' for nearby residents, councillor claims
Major works to build a railway training centre are making life a “living hell” for neighbours, a South Tyneside councillor has claimed.
Last year, plans for a £8.4 million railway skills centre were given the go-ahead as part of a major project by Metro operator Nexus.
The centre will be built on sidings between Mile End Road and Salem Street, South Shields.
When completed, it will serve as the training base for more than 1,000 people working on the Metro.
At a meeting of South Tyneside Council this week, (September 5) councillors heard the works were causing issues for residents.
Coun David Francis said: “I have lost count of the number of calls I have had from residents recently who say their lives have been made a living hell due to the work on this facility.
“They complained of excessive and continued noise, vibration shaking their whole houses and they tell me that they feel their concerns have not been taken seriously when they raised them with Nexus.“
Coun Francis, who represents the Green Party in Beacon and Bents ward, added residents near the works site wanted action.
This included the leader of South Tyneside Council visiting the site to listen to their concerns.
Another ask included the council insisting that Nexus “give the people of South Tyneside the consideration, respect and answers they deserve”.
Labour cabinet member for regeneration and economy, Coun John Anglin, told the meeting some disruption was unavoidable.
“If you build something it’s going to make noise, I take the view of the families that I was visiting over the last many weeks and I wouldn’t like it myself,” he said.
“But on the other hand, one has got to accept that if you make an omelette you’ve got to break eggs and there will be noise.”
Under planning conditions work times are restricted on the development to reduce disruption to residents.
On three occasions this summer when more time was needed for pouring concrete, Nexus won permission from the council to work beyond 6pm.
Transport bosses say residents were advised by letter drops, with no overnight working taking place.
But Coun Anglin said that Nexus could have communicated with residents better around the works.
“Yes it has happened but there’s been a reason for it, people have had it explained to them maybe not as well as they should have done,” he said.
In coming weeks, the councillor is set to visit residents alongside a Nexus representative to discuss concerns.
A Nexus spokesperson added: “We’re sorry if any residents have been disturbed by the construction of our new £8.4 million learning centre at Mile End Road in South Shields.
“This development, which will bring all of our training needs under one roof in a modern new building, has involved working in close proximity to a residential area.
“Every step has been taken by Nexus and our contractor to keep the level of site noise to an absolute minimum.
“Local residents and ward councillors are being kept fully informed through letter drops and public drop in sessions, the latest of which was held in August of this year.
“From the outset of the project the hours of working at the site have been limited to week days between the hours of 7.30am and 6pm, and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.
“There is no overnight working on site.
“When we obtained planning permission from South Tyneside Council we held a public consultation event for residents to find out more about the scope and scale of the development.
“Another public drop in event was held in August 2018 ahead of the construction works starting.
“Like any construction site, some of the works involve noise, but this is being carefully managed under the scrutiny of environmental health officers.”
The new training centre will be built on a the site of the town’s original railway station, which was closed when the Metro line was built in the early 1980s.
It is set to be completed in March 2020.
Features will include 70 metre stretch of dual track for Nexus to carry out rail infrastructure training.
Staff will also have access to classrooms, computer suites, offices, a conference room for 50 people and a train driver simulator.