Newcastle City Council And Developers Come Under Attack For Lack Of Full Consultation

Issue 64

Directors and residents at St Ann’s Quay apartments have slammed Newcastle City Council for a lack of consultation around revised plans for a ‘colossal’ apartment block on the final parcel of land on Quayside East.

The City Council has refused to budge beyond a 23 day window to allow the public to comment on a revised application that has already, this year, been condemned by local residents and other stakeholders, including local councillors, the influential Newcastle and Northumberland Society and the nearby Grade I listed St Ann’s Church.

At the same time, the applicant, Packaged Living and builder, Robertson, have also been criticised for waiving the opportunity to hold a public consultation to discuss the revised proposal.

Gareth Kane, Liberal Democrat councillor for Ouseburn West, said: “This is a major development proposed for a key location on the Quayside but the consultation has been, frankly, abysmal. The developers held a single public consultation event back in January, but then put forward quite different sets of plans in their two planning applications, so local residents have never been properly consulted on the scheme. This is simply unacceptable.”

Objectors to the proposed apartment block demand a longer consultation process takes place, saying revised plans at ‘Plot 12’ are a ‘token gesture’.

Plot 12 is located beside St Ann’s Quay and close to St Ann’s Church on City Road and High Quay apartments.

In the revised proposal, the development has been cut by one storey to 13, reducing the number of apartments only slightly from 292 to 289 and has been moved just 1.5m further away from St Ann’s Quay.

Earlier in the year, Newcastle City Council faced criticism for a misleading and inadequate consultation process, when the first application came forward, including just one public meeting, which many residents say was poorly advertised. Frustration was further compounded when those wishing to object to the scheme on the City Council’s portal, found the system was, at best, very difficult to access and at worst, simply not working.

Louise Richley, director at St Ann’s Quay, said: “This is the second time, and for different reasons, that people who have wished to object, have not been notified. We know for a fact that a number of leaseholders at St Ann’s Quay, whose properties are located right beside the proposed development, have not received any official notification as to the revised plans. This is completely unacceptable and in the interests of accountability and fairness, we want this investigated.

“We have a planning application that is unanimously condemned by its potential near neighbours due to its colossal size, scale and clear lack of consideration for those around it and any changes put forward in the revised application are nothing but token gestures.

“I have asked for an extension to the consultation process, as it is unbelievably difficult trying to coordinate all the expert advice together with consulting 91 leaseholders in 23 days, many of whom are based outside of the region, but the council will not budge. I also asked for an additional public meeting given the number of objections but am informed that the applicant has no interest in doing so. If they are confident they are putting forward the very best proposal for the Quayside, then why shy away from a public meeting, which would give them the opportunity to sell the scheme to the public and interested parties?”

The proposed planning application on Newcastle East Quayside has faced fierce critism not only from St Ann’s Quay but from Labour Councillor, Alistair Chisholm, Liberal Democrat Councillor, Gareth Kane, neighbouring apartment block, High Quays, the prestigious Newcastle and Northumberland Society and the Grade I listed St Ann’s Church. They have all unanimously condemned the building claiming that it is too big, would block light to neighbouring buildings and will damage views of the Tyne from the Grade I-listed St Ann’s Church, as well as, contributing to further traffic congestion along an already busy Horatio Street and Ouseburn.

Louise added: “We are bitterly disappointed with the response from both the City Council to mount an opposition to this development and with the developers who have simply removed a “nib” from one corner of the building which they claim will now present a clear view of St Ann’s Church from across the river and have only slightly reduced the number of proposed apartments being built.

“We welcome a development that fits the final piece in the acclaimed rejuvenation of the area, which is famous across the globe and completes the Quayside masterplan of Sir Terry Farrell but what we have been left with is lip service from the developers with the new plans representing no material difference to the original.”

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