Planners warned Newcastle Quayside development could lie derelict for a decade

New plans for the Plot 12 development on Newcastle\'s Quayside. Photo: Whittam Cox Architects via Newcastle City Council planning portal. Free to reuse for all LDRNew plans for the Plot 12 development on Newcastle\'s Quayside. Photo: Whittam Cox Architects via Newcastle City Council planning portal. Free to reuse for all LDR
New plans for the Plot 12 development on Newcastle\'s Quayside. Photo: Whittam Cox Architects via Newcastle City Council planning portal. Free to reuse for all LDR | LDRS service via Whittam Cox Architects

A prominent plot on Newcastle’s Quayside could be left empty for the best part of a decade if controversial plans for a 14-storey apartment block are not approved, a planning consultant has claimed.

Harvey Emms of Lichfields was giving evidence on the sixth day of the second planning inquiry held into the notorious Plot 12 application. Representing the applicants Packaged Living and Robertson Property, Mr Emms told the inquiry he felt the proposals should be approved on balance.

New plans for the Plot 12 development on Newcastle\'s Quayside. Photo: Whittam Cox Architects via Newcastle City Council planning portal. Free to reuse for all LDRNew plans for the Plot 12 development on Newcastle\'s Quayside. Photo: Whittam Cox Architects via Newcastle City Council planning portal. Free to reuse for all LDR
New plans for the Plot 12 development on Newcastle\'s Quayside. Photo: Whittam Cox Architects via Newcastle City Council planning portal. Free to reuse for all LDR | LDRS service via Whittam Cox Architects

Plot 12 is one of the last parcels of undeveloped land on the Quayside, and has been the subject of intense debate in recent years. The council and residents of neighbouring St Ann’s Quay have been locked in an ongoing battle with the developers that has seen the application refused by the council, only for the decision to be overturned by the first inquiry.

That decision was in turn quashed by the Court of Appeal and the judgement upheld by the High Court, leading to the current inquiry.

Speaking at The Mansion House in Jesmond on Wednesday, Mr Emms said he had been involved in with the scheme for “a number of years” and described it as a “high-quality, policy-compliant scheme”.

Mr Emms also felt the reasons for refusal presented by the council were “unsubstantiated”. Concern has centred around the loss of amenity for residents of St Ann’s Quay as well as damage to heritage assets including the Grade I listed St Ann’s Church.

Mr Emms added: “There is strong demand for this type of project. My view is the scheme is deliverable.

“The investor is keen to take it on for investment purposes. Costs are already over £1m, they wouldn’t be doing this unless they were willing to take it forward.

“I think there are significant public benefits and there is less than substantial harm to the significance of the heritage assets.”

At the previous planning inquiry, Mr Emms had argued that, if the scheme was refused, it would take between two and three years before another scheme came forward for the site. However, this time he feared the gap would be even larger due to site owner Homes England’s involvement with other schemes in the city, such as at Malmo Quay.

Mr Emms continued: “From my perspective, Homes England are heavily involved in big strategic sites in Newcastle. They may have to put this at the bottom of the list.

“Given it would have failed twice, they will take that into account. There’s nothing, there’s no alternative scheme. The site is too hard and it is not clear.

“It would be a minimum of five years before this site sees the light of day again. The current market is worse. It would be five to eight years.

“I think it is a great shame that such an important plot on the Quayside is just left to fail.”

The inquiry will see a roundtable discussion on Thursday regarding conditions and section 106 agreements, before the virtual closing takes place. This was due to happen on Friday, but has now been pushed back to Monday, December 4.

The inquiry continues.

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