Plan for leisure development to provide swimming lessons for youngsters refused by Sunderland City Council

Plans for a leisure development in Washington aiming to provide swimming lessons for youngsters have been refused over parking issues.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 7:12 pm
Fountain House, Coach Road Estate, Usworth, Washington Picture: Google.

Back in 2019, Sunderland City Council’s planning department received an application for the Fountain House off Coach Road Estate in Usworth.

Applicant Aqua Leisure Developments Ltd hoped to transform the old commercial building into a leisure facility offering a small private swimming pool and ancillary cafe.

The intention for the site included running private swimming lessons for children and babies, with an estimated 6-8 people per session.

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Other aspects of the mixed-use scheme included changing facilities and showers, a small viewing area and a kitchen linked to the cafe.

However, the application did not include “incurtilage” parking spaces or propose any cycle storage.

While city planners had no issues with the principle of development on the site, the plans failed to pass necessary tests around the provision of adequate parking.

A council decision report said that based on the information submitted, at least 16 car parking spaces were needed to meet the demand the development was likely to generate.

Although a car park sits directly adjacent to the site, the report added it was not in the control of the applicant and that the applicant’s agent had “so far failed to secure an agreement” for use of part of the land for parking.

Without this parking provision, the report explained, the development would create highway safety issues in the area.

According to planning documents, the site is vacant and was last used by a hair and beauty salon.

During consultation, five letters of objection were also lodged raising concerns about the new development and its impact on parking, potential noise disturbance and land ownership issues linked to the nearby car park.

After considering all representations, the council’s planning authority rejected the application on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

The decision report adds: “The proposed development has been found to be acceptable in principle and is not likely to raise any major issues with regard to land contamination or noise pollution.

“The proposal is also considered to be acceptable in terms of the visual impact of the alterations to the building.

“However, without adequate off-street parking or cycle storage provision, the development is likely to lead to increased parking on the highway within the vicinity of the site to the detriment of highway and pedestrian safety and the residential amenities of nearby residents.”