Historic riverside building to be demolished – despite council chiefs admitting the harm it will cause

Mill Dam boundary wall and the Staithes House, which the Council are going to demolish.

Mill Dam boundary wall and the Staithes House, which the Council are going to demolish.

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A historic site on South Tyneside’s riverside is set to be demolished.

Staithes House and its adjacent boundary wall were the subject of a planning application submitted to South Tyneside Council.

Permission was sought by the me Homes & Communities Agency (HCA), to demolish Staithes House, retaining its Mill Dam façade only, and the adjacent boundary wall.

South Tyneside Council’s panning department have now gave the go-ahead the building, which was in a state of disrepair, to be flattened.

A heritage statement, which was submitted along with the planning application, said: “The historic value of Staithes House and its aesthetic role within the wider streetscape of Mill Dam and Mill Dam Conservation Area contributes to its local significance.

“Demolition will entail a loss of heritage value resulting in substantial harm to the asset and harm to the wider conservation area.

“However, the demolition will facilitate the regeneration of this part of South Shields which will, ultimately, enhance the character of Mill Dam Conservation Area and benefit residents, workers and visitors to the area.”

It is understood the demolition is aimed at furthering the development of the town centre but what will replace the building has not yet been decided.

Staithes House was built to house the washing and locker facilities for engine drivers and coal-handlers at Harton Low Staithes.

A spokesman for HCA, which inherited the site from former development agency One North East, told the Gazette: “We are looking to demolish Staithes House to make it easier for the site to be sold on and developed by someone else.

“There is also health and safety implications due to Staithes House being derelict. The idea is for the wall to remain, in the short term, but it could be replaced with something more suitable in the longer term.

“By clearing the site, it will hopefully make the area more interesting to more developers, who may not have taken it on if they thought they would have the added cost of demolition, so we are taking care of that.

“We are continuing to work with our partners at South Tyneside Council.”