A pub in South Tyneside is to expand business – despite fears from the school next door about drunks and the danger of paedophiles.
Governors at St Bede’s RC Primary and Nursery School have warned council chiefs about potential risks posed by newly-approved plans for The Maltings pub.
These include youngsters playing and studying seeing pubgoers drinking and smoking – and even being spied on and photographed.
They revealed police have previously been called to remove adults from their grounds after some had been caught attending sports days without permission.
Despite their complaints, Maltings owner Tony Singh has been given planning permission to develop the pub in Claypath Lane, South Shields.
He intends to invest around £400,000 converting its mainly disused ground floor and an outside space into a separate bar.
The school’s concerns were raised in a letter of objection sent to South Tyneside Council by Margaret Melling, chair of governors.
She said schools are obliged to promote healthy lifestyles, with children being taught about the dangers of smoking and drinking.
While not objecting to the scheme in principle, she said: “We do object to the children being able to see smoking and drinking taking place from their playground and classrooms, and perhaps being diverted from their studies by any additional noise caused by customers sitting outside.
“There is a further possibility that the outside seating area may attract adults whose sole intention is to observe and possibly photograph the children playing or participating in a PE lesson.
“In the past we have had occasion to call the police to report such adults attending sports days.”
The school asked that Mr Singh be ordered to install a solid perimeter boundary to obstruct the view from and into the external seating area, if planning permission was granted.
Project designer Gerard McElvenny, of Sunderland-based Studio One Design, insisted Mr Singh is aware of the school’s fears and that his plans eliminate any risk.
He said this was guaranteed by the new outlet only opening after school hours at 5pm, and a border of greenery being installed.
Mr McElvenny added: “There will be restricted hours to protect the school, but this was always the case – the plan has not been modified.
“The premises will never be open when the school is open. We won’t clash with the school at all.”
Northumbria Police raised no objections to the project in respect of crime prevention.
The outlet, which is expected to open before Christmas, can trade from 5pm to 1am on weekdays, from noon to 2am on Saturdays, and from noon to midnight on Sundays.
In a report, council planning case officer Joshua Kenolty said: “The outdoor terrace would only be open to the public outside of the regular hours of the school, preventing school children from observing drinking and/or smoking.
“Furthermore a high boundary enclosure with shrub planting is proposed to enclose the external seating area.
“Whilst this proposed boundary treatment is not solid, it would adequately screen the site.”
The council did impose a condition that no amplified music is played, to protect the school caretaker’s house from disruption.