New online pharmacy approved for Sunderland, despite fears over security
A new online pharmacy is set to spring up in Sunderland after proposals were given the green light by councillors this week.
Earlier this year, a planning application was submitted to Sunderland City Council to change the use of a business unit in the Pallion ward.
The site at 1 Whitehall Terrace sits off the junction between Hylton Road, Kayll Road and Pallion Road, near Sunderland Royal Hospital.
New plans from Dominionpharm Ltd sought a change of use from a hairdressing salon to an ‘online pharmacy and storage and distribution centre.”
The application form said that “no changes to the existing structure” were planned except for fixing new shelves, office tables and computers, CCTV, shutters and alarms.
During consultation however, the plans sparked objections from several Kayll Road residents over potential parking issues, highway safety and security.
Following a referral by Pallion ward councillor, Martin Haswell, the application was called into the council’s Planning and Highways (East) Committee for decision.
In comments previously submitted to planners, Cllr Haswell questioned the nature of the security measures in place - with concerns the premises “could become a target for break-ins due to the storage of medicines.”
During consultation, extra information about security was provided by the applicant to council planners.
This ranged from the installation of advanced alarm systems, secure cabinets and motion sensor technology, to the use of 'frosted glass' to prevent passers-by looking into the premises during office hours.
Applicants stressed that the site would not be open to the public with medicines and other pharmaceutical products stored at the premises and distributed via couriers in response to online orders.
In addition, they said all consultations would take place via phone or video call and deliveries and collections were anticipated to happen “once or twice daily" at restricted times.
Vehicles would also be instructed to park along Bexley Street where short-stay parking is available.
The city council's Planning and Highways (East) Committee discussed the application at Sunderland Civic Centre on Monday (June 7).
At the meeting, Pallion councillor Colin Nicholson raised concerns about parking at the site, waste disposal arrangements and security issues.
However, planners said the plans were acceptable and recommended them for approval, noting the site's history of commercial uses.
Many planning committee members said the extra information provided by the applicant had also allayed their concerns, with the plans winning unanimous support.
Councillor Karen Noble said that the applicant "seemed to be taking every precaution to actually plan to make sure that the [development] is safely delivered."
Councillor Niall Hodson also asked if planning conditions could be amended to restrict the pharmacy business loading and unloading on Hylton Road.
Council officers, responding, said there were already double yellow lines in the area and that parking problems in future would be an enforcement issue, rather than a planning matter.
Under planning conditions, conversion works for the online pharmacy must be brought forward within the next three years.
The business is expected to employ three staff, including a ‘responsible pharmacist’ and approved opening hours will be 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday.
A planning statement circulated at the meeting adds that two of the staff will be employed locally in Pallion, with the intention to give employment to "serious-minded local youths who are looking for jobs."