Homes and hotel on dock site approved

New Smiths Dock housing development at North Shields.
New Smiths Dock housing development at North Shields.
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MULTI-million-pound plans to transform an historic shipyard into a riverside community have been approved by councillors.

London-based property group Places for People (PfP) is looking to build 775 homes on land at the former Smith’s Dock in North Shields.

The plans also include an 80-bed hotel, shops and cafes.

The focal point of the development will be three dock structures, which will be retained as a symbol of the site’s heritage.

These will be surrounded by public open space and a waterfront park.

Members of North Tyneside Council’s planning committee voted unanimously in favour of the plans on Tuesday night.

Councillors also approved a second option submitted by the property group for 815 homes and shops but no hotel.

Coun Norma Redfearn, of the Riverside ward, spoke in favour of the development, which she said would help to regenerate the area and bring employment opportunities both during the construction stage as well in the new shops.

Local suppliers are also expected to benefit during the procurement phase.

Some members expressed their concerns about the lack of affordable housing in the plans.

Coun Frank Lott, also of the Riverside ward, pointed out that the first application in 2001 had included 30 affordable units and even this was short of what is recommended in the council’s housing policy.

He warned that home ownership in the borough could become the preserve of the wealthy unless councillors acted now to guarantee homes that young people could afford.

It was agreed by planning committee chairman Coun Tommy Mulvenna that there would be a legal agreement to include at least 30 affordable homes in the plans as well as 38 apprenticeships created.

Philip Wood, representing residents of the Brewery Bond building in Duke Street, said that they were largely in favour of the plans but had concerns about the height and scale of the nearby ‘landmark’ mixed residential and commercial building, which could be as high as 12 storeys.

The committee heard that attempts have been made in the design stage to reduce the impact of the building and Coun Redfearn said that this would be re-visited when the detailed plans were considered in six months time.

Nigel Brewer, project director for Smith’s Dock at PfP, said: “We are delighted that our new proposals for Smith’s Dock has been approved and we believe it represents a fantastic opportunity for North Shields and North Tyneside.

“We have listened to local views and worked closely with the council over the last two years to re-plan the site and focus more on much needed family homes with excellent facilities to ensure that Smith’s Dock becomes a great place to live and visit.”

Smith’s Dock opened in 1851 and was a major part of the Tyne’s shipbuilding history.

It was later used as a ship repair yard before closing in the 1990s.

PfP bought the site in 2007 and has already spent £20m on cleaning up the area.