A new apartment complex will be built in Ouseburn, after “somewhat vacuous” objections from nearby pubs were dismissed by councillors.
Plans for 50 flats in St Lawrence Road, directly behind the Free Trade Inn, were unanimously approved by Newcastle City Council’s planning committee on Friday. Both the Free Trade Inn and nearby Tyne Bar had voiced major opposition to the scheme, from developer A&A Properties, fearing that the six-storey block’s future residents will make noise complaints that could lead to restrictions being put on the venue’s operations and even force closure.
But councillors agreed with city planners’ view that noise would not be a concern and gave their backing to the proposals. The Free Trade Inn’s management said that the development “places our business at risk”, with the Tyne Bar claiming it “threatens to tear the beating heart out of Ouseburn”.
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Friday morning’s committee hearing was also told that city council leader Nick Kemp had echoed concerns about the building adding to parking and congestion problems in the area, with only 30 parking spaces being provided for 50 flats. Kenton Labour councillor Stephen Lambert told fellow committee members that he found the pubs’ noise worries “problematic and somewhat vacuous”, believing the influx of new customers would help the venues survive “rather than being a threat”.
He said: “I am puzzled by the pub’s concerns. If anything I would have thought that an additional 50-odd people would boost footfall and boost trade in the Free Trade Inn and the other pubs as well. The economic arguments are staring them in the face.”
Byker councillor Stephen Sheraton added that it would be “blatantly obvious” to anyone buying the flats that they were next door to a pub and was reassured by council officers that only one noise complaint had ever been lodged by residents of the nearby Citypeak apartments and none at all from the Malings. Coun George Pattison praised the “excellent” plan to regenerate what is currently derelict land, while Coun Doreen Huddart said the proposed complex would not be overcrowded in the way councillors’ have feared about other riverside developments.
Newcastle City Council said that “considerable redesign work” had been done on the building to deal with the noise concerns – including removing balconies closest to the Free Trade Inn and reducing the number of bedrooms that overlook the pub.
In their report to the planning committee, officers conclude that the building’s “contemporary design is considered to be of a high standard” and that it would “fit into the development pattern of the area”. The developers have argued that the flats would “enhance and maximise the potential of the currently vacant site”.