Plans for new business units and a Starbucks drive-thru in South Shields have been given the go-ahead, despite traffic and air pollution concerns from objectors.

South Tyneside Council’s planning department has approved an application for a brownfield site on the junction of Crossgate (A194) and Claypath Lane, near South Shields Town Hall.

The town centre site once housed an office block which was later demolished, with the land sitting vacant for several years.

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New plans from North East developer Modo Bloc, submitted to the council last year, sought permission to build three new commercial units and a Starbucks drive-thru branch.

Those behind the scheme previously said the development represented a £3 million investment and would create between 30-40 jobs.

Proposed plans for the site included around 34 new parking spaces, including 10 with electric vehicle charging points and five disabled bays, as well as cycle racks, new boundary treatments and landscaping.

During a council consultation exercise on the plans, eight objections were received with the majority linked to parents of children who attend St Bede’s Catholic Primary and Nursery School.

Concerns included the suitability of the site for the development, increased traffic and footfall, noise disruption and potential child safeguarding issues for the school.

The local authority also received a letter of representation from the vice-chair of governors of St Bede’s Catholic Primary School.

The objections, summarised in a council planning report, raised concerns about the proposed access to the development from Claypath Lane as well as traffic-related air pollution impacts.

Part of the consultation statement said: “Claypath Lane and the highway approach to many other schools in South Tyneside are plagued with inherent hazardous conditions for children gaining safe and harm free access to their schools.

“To even contemplate situating a drive-thru business on such a highway beggars belief.

“Especially so, when the business’ peak trading hour coincides with the school’s opening time and children’s arrival”.

Councillor Margaret Meling, writing in her capacity as a former chair of governors of the primary school, raised similar concerns about the development.

This included impacts on air quality and the development “increasing the volume of traffic, creating new road safety hazards for the children and seeing the school return to [its] previous parking difficulties”.

Councillor David Francis, a Beacon and Bents ward member, also submitted a statement raising concerns about highway safety, the development’s close proximity to a school and associated air quality impacts from “idling vehicles”.

Cllr Francis added: “In a world that will absolutely need to move towards active travel, public transport and shared ownership/car club schemes, encouraging people to ‘drive through’ and idle in vehicles seems to be very much a step in the wrong direction”.

In addition, the council’s public health department did not support the planning application in terms of the “impact of additional vehicle trips and the potential for a reduction in the air quality impacting on young children at the primary school opposite.”

After considering the planning application and assessing it against planning policies, South Tyneside Council’s planning department approved it on August 9, 2023.

A council decision report referenced an air quality assessment which concluded there would be a “negligible impact on existing receptors”, with council planners adding that it “could not be established that the proposal would lead to an unacceptable risk from air pollution”.

Council planners also noted that the scheme would be acceptable in terms of highways impacts, subject to conditions.

This includes some on-carriageway vehicle parking spaces being removed on Claypath Lane, east of the site access, to “preserve visibility at the site entrance for drivers leaving the site”.

Further highway works are also proposed including widening, reconstructing and resurfacing the vehicular site access from Claypath Lane, as well as widening the footway.

The council decision report added: “The proposed development is acceptable in terms of highway safety, capacity, access and parking subject to the recommended conditions.

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“Furthermore, the design is also considered to be acceptable, subject to conditions in respect of materials and further details for the bin store and EV charging substation.

“There are no issues in terms of residential amenity. Subject to conditions relating to ecology, landscaping, contaminated land and drainage there would be no issues in terms of environmental considerations.

“Careful consideration of air quality and adjacent receptors has been undertaken including having regard to representations received from third parties and consultees”.

Under planning conditions work on the development must take place on site within three years.

For more information on the planning application and council decision, visit South Tyneside Council’s planning portal website and search reference: ST/0746/22/FUL