Plans refused to turn former Sunderland social club into industrial units for small businesses

Proposals to transform a former Sunderland social club into industrial units for small businesses have been turned down by planning bosses.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 7:08 pm
Former Fence Houses Comrades Club (2021)
Former Fence Houses Comrades Club (2021)

Earlier this year, a planning application was lodged with Sunderland City Council for the former Fence Houses Comrades Club, off Station Avenue North.

The scheme aimed to regenerate the building to provide individual industrial units and storage facilities.

According to the planning application, the change of use started in May 2020 and planning permission was subsequently applied for in January 2021.

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After considering the plans, planners said the scheme clashed with several areas of council policy.

A statement from the council’s planning policy department, submitted during the consultation process, said the proposal related to the “loss of a community facility.”

And based on the information provided by the applicant, planners said this loss had “not been justified as required” under a policy in the council’s recently adopted Core Strategy and Development Plan (CSDP), or local plan.

A notice was published on the council’s website on Tuesday (May 11) refusing the plan for the former social club and setting out the reasons for the decision.

The notice said that the application would have a “harmful impact on the visual amenity” of the area and did not provide evidence to show a “satisfactory level of parking” would be provided for customers and staff.

Planners added that the application did not demonstrate that the proposed industrial uses could not be accommodated at a “more appropriate site,” such as a “designated employment area.”

The report reads: “The proposed use of the site for industry and storage will have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of the area and the local environment by virtue of the generation of noise, disturbance, odour and impact on air quality.”

It goes on to say: “The application has not been accompanied by evidence to support the loss and alternative development of a building and site which currently provides a community use.

“In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the council as local planning authority must therefore conclude that the proposed development will result in the unacceptable loss of a community facility, contrary to the objectives of policy VC5 of the council’s adopted CSDP and the National Planning Policy Framework.”

For more information on the planning application and council’s decision to refuse, visit and search planning reference: 21/00156/FUL