'Sub-standard' apartments plan rejected for former Sunderland city centre Herbert Brown jewellery shop building

Proposals for a ‘sub-standard’ apartment scheme in Sunderland city centre have been thrown out by council planners.

By Chris Binding
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 5:46 pm

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15 Waterloo Place. Picture: Google Streetview
15 Waterloo Place. Picture: Google Streetview

Sunderland City Council’s planning department recently validated an application for 15 Waterloo Place, near the city’s central rail station.

The corner retail unit was last occupied by the Herbert Brown jewellery shop, but according to planning documents, it has now been empty for more than two years.

New plans aimed to transform the building’s first and second floors into six self-contained one-bedroom apartments.

During consultation on the planning application however, concerns were raised about the absence of a dedicated bin storage facility and the knock-on effects this could create.

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In a consultation statement, the council’s environmental services manager said the scheme would “significantly impact on the city centre environment and the vision of the city”.

A number of public objections were also submitted, with concerns raised about the new development exacerbating an existing problem of bins blocking the highway and overspilling.

After assessing the application against planning policies and considering all consultation responses, Sunderland City Council’s planning department refused the application on June 6, 2022.

One reason for refusal included the lack of waste storage facilities which, planners argued, would “lead to the storage of refuse bins within the highway, to the detriment of pedestrian and highway safety” and visual amenity.

Council planners also noted the apartments would not meet national ‘space standards’ which would result in a “sub-standard level of accommodation and amenity”, as well as having a “sub-standard level of outlook and natural light”.

A fourth reason for refusal included the absence of an assessment looking at “exposure of the property to external noise levels” and whether mitigation measures were needed.

The planning decision report adds: “Although residential accommodation in this location is acceptable in principle, the proposal represents the overdevelopment of the site.

“There is no provision for the storage of refuse within the curtilage of the site, that will inevitably lead to the storage of refuse bins within the highway, which is not acceptable from a highway safety or a visual amenity point of view.

“The quality of the accommodation to be provided is inadequate in terms of the internal space available to the potential residents and the poor outlook and light levels offered by the only windows to the apartments, and no information regarding the impact of noise has been submitted.”

The applicant has the right to contest the council’s ruling by lodging an appeal with the Secretary of State.

For more information on the planning application and council decision, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 22/00634/FUL