Shocked locals have reacted with horror after plans for a controversial Quayside apartment block were given the green light.
Hundreds of neighbours had spoken out against the vision for a 14-storey flats complex on the long-vacant Plot 12 site and were relieved when Newcastle City Council rejected the scheme last year.
But their joy turned to dismay over the weekend, after a planning inspector overturned that verdict on appeal and gave the green light for the 289-apartment block to go ahead.
Residents of the St Ann’s Quay building next door have complained that the new development will overshadow them, destroy views, and block out daylight.
St Ann’s Quay management director Louise Richley said: “Our leaseholders are shocked and surprised with the decision, which is heavily opinion led.
“The proposals have been universally rejected by all its neighbours – St Ann’s Church, Friends of St Ann’s, St Ann’s Quay, High Quay and Mariners – no-one locally has spoken in favour, so it’s effectively being imposed.
“On top of this, the [Newcastle City Council] planning committee voted 11-1 against it and our ward councillors are against it.
“What seems to be driving the decision is an attitude that Plot 12 has been vacant for 30 years, it’s in public ownership and any development is better than leaving it as it is, despite the multitude of problems.”
There have also been complaints that future residents of the Plot 12 scheme will have to live in apartments that do not meet minimum space standards and that the new complex will worsen congestion problems around the Quayside.
Ms Richley added: “This is all set against a backdrop of central government trying to raise the standards of design and to ‘build beautiful’. The iconic Newcastle Quayside deserves better and the concept that this building creates an urban utopia for professionals that live without cars is simply not the reality of what will happen.”
Ouseburn ward Lib Dem councillor Gareth Kane, another long-term critic of the scheme, said he was “very disappointed” that the “unacceptable” scheme would now go ahead.
Packaged Living, who are planning to develop the Homes England-owned site along with Robertson Property, were contacted for a comment.
In a verdict issued last Friday, planning inspector Claire Searson decided that the contentious scheme “would not appear clumsy or out of keeping along the Quayside”.
She said that there was “no justification” to deny planning permission in order to wait for an alternative design to come forward on what is “an exceptionally difficult site to develop” and dismissed the concerns over living standards.
Developers had previously warned that a failure to get this Plot 12 scheme approved would risk leaving the land, one of the last empty spots on the Quayside, unoccupied for years to come.
It is claimed that the scheme could create more than 700 construction jobs and boost spending in the local economy by an estimated £4 million a year.