Plans to build homes next to hospital are turned down

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PLANS to build 80 homes on land in the grounds of North Tyneside General Hospital have been rejected because of concerns over the extra traffic they would generate.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust had applied for permission for the houses so it could sell off part of the Rake Lane site in North Shields to raise more money to spend on patient care.

The site, backing on to Preston Grange Primary School, is currently a mix of grassed areas and a 204-space staff car park and – for now, at least – looks set to stay that way.

A replacement car park would have been created 100 metres away.

The plans were for 80 two to three-storey homes with two, three and four bedrooms, as well as garages and 194 parking spaces.

The trust was looking to sell the land with planning consent already secured so it could get a higher price from potential developers.

The application was refused by North Tyneside Council’s planning committee on Tuesday, however, because of its potential impact on neighbours of the site and the environment, as well as the increases in noise, traffic and congestion it would have led to.

Eight residents sent in letters to the council opposing the development as they believed the proposed properties would have exacerbated existing traffic problems in and around Rake Lane.

A further three letters were submitted arguing against the replacement car park.

Coun Lesley Spillard, of Wallsend’s Battle Hill ward, was in favour of the application on the grounds that it would bring more affordable housing to the area.

“My personal point of view is that it is a positive that we are providing affordable houses that are not encroaching on greenfield land,” she said.

However, Coun Steve Cox, of the Collingwood ward in North Shields, was concerned about the traffic congestion the development could cause.

He said: “There is an opportunity to add a lot of affordable houses, and increase the number of housing in general when we’re being told that we have a shortage, but I have big concerns about the traffic flow in Rake Lane.”

Coun David Lilley, of Tynemouth, agreed that the application would add to the existing congestion on the road.

“What concerns me is the increase of traffic in Rake Lane, which is already a congested road.

“It will just add to he traffic that is already there.”

Trust chief executive Jim Mackey said afterwards: “We are disappointed that the application was not granted planning permission, considering that planning officers had recommended approval and it is in line with the latest guidance from the Department of Health.

“We will work with the council to understand and address councillors’ concerns.

“We remain fully committed to delivering the planned improvements to North Tyneside General Hospital.”