Plans to repair storm damage at an iconic lighthouse and pier in South Shields have been submitted to council development chiefs.

South Tyneside Council’s planning department has received an application for the South Pier Lighthouse and Pier in the town, which is more than a century old.

The site has been fenced off for months following major damage caused by Storm Babet, which battered the country’s coastline back in October, 2023.

The combination of strong winds and high waves saw the lighthouse’s distinctive red and white dome torn off, as well as extensive damage to the surrounding pier.

At the time of writing, the pier and lighthouse is still closed to the public with a security fence and warning sign noting it is an “unsafe structure” with “missing handrails” and “unprotected edges”.

A new planning application from the Port of Tyne Authority aims to make key repairs to the Grade II-listed pier and lighthouse.

This includes the “re-roofing of the lighthouse, refurbishment of iron work and internal repairs and replacement to joinery and plaster”.

In addition, the plans include the rebuilding of “lost and damaged sections of stone parapet wall and iron balustrading to the pier”.

A heritage impact assessment and design and access statement submitted to the council notes the pier faced “substantial” storm damage, from parts of stone wall being dislodged or washed away, to iron posts and associated handrails being damaged or “completely washed into the sea”.

The planning document added the lighthouse’s “9ft diameter copper domed roof and weathervane” had been “completely lost”, as well as the internal navigational light being “completely smashed” and “considerable water damage inside the lighthouse”.

It was also noted that sonar scans and diving searches had been carried out looking for lost “large stone parapet blocks, balustrade railings and the iron and copper elements of the roof dome”, however, the efforts were unsuccessful due to “inclement weather, strong currents and poor visibility”.

However, some elements of the lighthouse were still recovered including a “copper ventilator drum”, “bronze alloy screen channels” and the “bronze alloy support frame to Fresnel Lense that sat on top of the cast iron light pedestal that contained the mantle of the gas burner”, planning documents state.

Supporting planning documents confirm that technical drawings of Berry Head Lighthouse in Devon, and construction details of the domes of Tynemouth Lighthouse and South Shields’ Souter Lighthouse, will help to “inform the re-construction of South Pier Lighthouse”.

It was also confirmed that the lighthouse roof would be reinstated “using like-for-like materials to match the original iron frame and copper dome which was lost at sea”.

In addition, “decorative roof elements” such as the brass weathervane and the “iconic red and white paint scheme” would be reinstated.

Those behind the repair project said the works would “have a high beneficial impact, greatly enhancing the ability to appreciate the lighthouse’s architectural interest and improving the character and setting of the rest of the pier”.

In terms of lantern repairs, applicants also propose to “reinstate the bronze framing that previously held the Fresnel Lenses and navigational light set (lost during the storm), but to set within in it a modern state of art LED navigational light that conforms to modern standards”.

The heritage impact assessment and design and access statement adds: “The site holds high levels of architectural and historical interest, as an impressive feat of Victorian and Edwardian engineering, its influence on the export economy in the North East and for its group value with its sister lighthouse and pier at Tynemouth.

“The proposed works represent a comprehensive and sensitive repair of the south pier and lighthouse at South Shields.

“Consideration has been given to the historical and architectural values of the Grade II-listed structures, whilst weighing against the critical need to secure its future use as a functioning lighthouse and protection for the pier against future severe weather events.

“The current condition of the lighthouse and the northern end of the pier is poor, having a detrimental impact on their historical and architectural values.

“Works to remedy this will have an overall high beneficial impact on the site.

“It would also improve the visitor experience to the pier and lighthouse, which is currently characterised by temporary scaffolding”.

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A decision on the planning application will be made once a period of council consultation has concluded.

Comments can be made on the plans, via South Tyneside Council’s planning portal website, until June 26, 2024.

For more information on the plan or to track its progress, visit the council’s planning portal website and search reference: ST/0323/24/LBC.