Soon, work is expected to start on the construction of a row of modern, 12-metre high, three-storey terraced housing on the Church Lane House site, which lies at the heart of the historic core of the Whitburn Conservation Area.
South Tyneside Council Policy DM6, aimed at protecting the borough’s heritage assets states that two significant council documents should be used in considering the impact of any new development on a conservation area. These supplementary policy documents identify and recommend the protection of key characteristics that make up the special character and appearance of conservation areas. For example, in order to preserve the historic settlement pattern of the Church Lane House site, as well as maintaining the iconic view of the village from the south (A183) both the council’s character appraisal document and its development brief for the site recommend that any new development should be low in height and generally follow the footprint of the site of the former bungalow, which was well set back at the opposite end of the site to the park.
The council has defended its decision to ignore this recommendation and its support for such a tall building positioned only a few metres back from the park wall, by stating that both supplementary documents mentioned above are not part of the council’s statutory development plan. While legally correct, the council’s dismissive attitude to the contents of such significant and important documents does raise wider concerns regarding how the council is currently dealing with proposed developments in the borough’s conservation areas.
The council has stated that this development will “enhance the character and appearance of the area” despite English Heritage, along with virtually all local residents, with one exception, strongly disagreeing.
Final judgement will no doubt be made once this monstrosity is erected.
Church Lane walker