South Shields Metro development is back on track after planning blunder

Work has started on the Metro Training Centre despite a planning hitch
Work has started on the Metro Training Centre despite a planning hitch

Things are back on track at the new £8.4million Metro training base project in South Tyneside - after a planning blunder threatened to derail its progress.

Work has started on the project - just outside South Shields town centre - but only after a fresh planning application had to be approved, because a design error put it in the wrong place!

Metro trains will be parked overnight in South Shields

Metro trains will be parked overnight in South Shields

Designers had to go back to the drawing board – and seek another approval – to move the Nexus Learning Centre five metres to the north-west.

Metro chiefs have also admitted to not meeting requirements around the width of the track being used, signalling and space for driver walkways needed for the scheme.

They also failed to take in to account the amount of straight track necessary to link to the existing Metro rail network which ends at the town’s station.

Work has now started building the bespoke facility - which will deliver a wide range of rail infrastructure and operations training.

But records show the design team realised the mistake a month after South Tyneside Council granted planning approval in March.

They had to apply for permission to vary the design - which is being built just off Mile End Road - meaning council planners carrying out a new and detailed assessment of the centre’s possible impact on nearby houses.

Although they found there was no heightened risk, the plan change means the centre will lose five metres of space from its service yard.

Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, said: “Our £8.4million plans to build a new learning centre in South Shields remain firmly on track.

“We have gained permission from the planners to locate the building five metres further up the site, to ensure that the development has the correct alignment with the existing tracks in the Metro sidings.

“The Nexus Learning Centre will transform the quality of the training that we provide to our workforce and ensure we keep Metro part of everyday life for the 100,000 people who use the service every day.

“There will be space at the new training centre to stable a small number of Metro trains and maintain them outside of the main fleet depot in Newcastle.

“This will allow Nexus to safely and securely stable Metro trains overnight in South Shields, allowing for an earlier start of services and later evening services from South Shields when the new train fleet is brought into service.”

South Tyneside Council did not wish to comment.

The development, due to open next summer, is being funded through a £7million grant from the Government’s Local Growth Fund Deal through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, with Nexus contributing £1.4million.