Plans for clifftop sanctuary ruled out '“ but work to save lives will go on
The nurse behind the idea of creating a 24-hour clifftop 'community hub' says he remains hopeful a version of his dream will become a reality.
Phil Brown met with National Trust chiefs and representatives from South Tyneside Council to put his plan to them in a bid to get their support.
He had hoped to create a hub to run as a coffee shop during the day, with a craft room for people to learn about the environment and history of Marsden.
At night it would be a place for those needing a friendly ear, support and advice.
A meeting was held last week to discuss the plans further as well as other ideas put forward by Mr Brown in a bid to make the cliff-tops safer.
Mr Brown said: “We had a good meeting and I’m grateful the agencies took the time to listen to what I had to say.
“As well as the community hub, I asked for some of the benches along the clifftops to be re-sited due to how close they had now become to the edge.
“I also proposed a second route onto the Leas to aid emergency service access, which would compliment the coastal marker system already in place.
“For me, the issue is not just the need for suicide prevention, but also cliff safety, and what other interventions can be put in place to further protect the public.”
The Trust say while they could not support the building of a community hub on the land due to it being green belt, they have taken what Mr Brown has said on board.
They say they are continuing their work on promoting responsible use of the coast line through the Trust’s education scheme and are looking at re-siting some of the benches.
Eric Wilton, regional manager for the Trust said: “We had a good meeting and talked about the key issues. But there won’t be any opportunity for a community hub to be placed on the Leas.
“As the National Trust we have to fulfil our obligation to manage the Leas for the community as a green space. In terms of planning permission for a structure like this, on green belt land, it wouldn’t be agreed.
“There’s a lot of work taking place within South Tyneside on suicide prevention and it would be good for Mr Brown to work in conjunction with that team.
“We welcomed his positive stance in raising the issue and we did have a good meeting.”
No one was available for comment from South Tyneside Council