Directors at Adderstone Group have expressed their dismay after a report posted by Newcastle City Council’s planning officer recommends that the Council's Planning Committee refuse their application for family housing on the brownfield site of the former Greggs Bakery in Gosforth. The report expresses concerns that potential noise complaints from future residents might restrict the operations of a neighbouring business on Gosforth Industrial Estate.
In September 2015 Adderstone Group submitted a formal pre application to deliver 51 four bedroom family homes on land that the City Council’s Employment Land Review (2014) had recommended be de-allocated for employment purposes, concluding that the site was “no longer fit for purpose."
In March 2016 planners initially supported the proposed housing scheme via the case officer’s pre-application correspondence and Adderstone Group was invited to submit a detailed planning application with the full support of the Planning Department.
Adderstone Group worked with the City Council for over three years, addressing issues and amends to the proposals which are now for 39 homes that have been architecturally designed around a grand crescent. The proposals feature communal open space, private gardens and generous parking, with excellent access to public amenities and transport.
Delays in determining the application revolve around potential noise nuisance that might occasionally be generated by one of the businesses on the park. Despite the fact that no noise issues were found during 300 hours of monitoring, the Council’s Environmental Officer highlighted a worst case scenario and recommended refusal based on exceptional noise levels which occurred during a pre-arranged site visit to White Brothers Limited on 31 July 2017.
A barrister’s opinion has been submitted to the Planning Department advising that the one-off noise level which White Brothers Limited can potentially generate should not be used as justification for refusal. Charles Banner of Landmark Chambers said that the Council would be making “a serious error of approach” and acting unlawfully by using the worst case scenario as a reason for refusal.
He went on to say: “In that situation, if Adderstone Group were to appeal to the Secretary of State they would stand a good prospect of an award of costs against the Council as a result.”
Public support for the scheme has been widespread, with over one hundred positive messages submitted on City Council’s planning portal including from Rob Leonard, Assistant Head teacher of nearby Gosforth Central Middle School. Many parents and local residents are concerned about a return to the indudstrial traffic levels on Christon Road that were experienced in the Greggs era.
In recent months the site has become a target for vandals and youths putting themselves in danger by ignoring security warnings and trespassing into the buildings. Adderstone Group has been working closely with Inspector Karen Murray from Northumbria Police to secure the site which is fully fenced with warning signs, has 360 degree CCTV across multiple cameras and is patrolled by mobile security guards.
Harvey Emms, Director at Lichfield’s Planning Consultants said: “We believe the applicant has addressed all planning issues. Given the lack of availability of new homes in Gosforth, it is essential to prioritise brownfield housing on sites such as Gosforth Industrial Estate which the Council acknowledge is suitable for residential development. This is a significant decision for the planning committee because the long term conversion of the estate to housing could deliver as many as 250 homes, over 750 jobs, economic output of £3.5m, almost £4m in resident expenditure as well as £4.2m capital receipts to the City Council. There are of course much wider socio economic benefits also.”
Ian Baggett, CEO of Adderstone Group said: “Given the pressure on the city’s greenbelt, it is essential to prioritise brownfield housing in line with adopted core strategy for Gateshead and Newcastle.
“After years of effort on our part the planners have done a U-turn and seem to be applying green field standards to a brownfield site. Any noise nuisance would impact on established housing in the area more than our proposed new houses.
“We are grateful for all those who supported our vision. We continue to try our best but if members follow the recommendation at Committee it seems likely that we will be left with no alternative but to appeal and to try and let these sheds in the meantime to whichever industrial businesses will take them. I am sure such an outcome would be as disappointing to local residents as it would be to us.”
Newcastle City Council is due to make a final decision on the application when the planning committee sits on 24th November.