Setback for new restaurant under Pier Point Phase 2 development at Marine Walk on Sunderland seafront as councillors rebel over traffic fears

Plans for a new seafront restaurant in Sunderland have faced a setback after a push by councillors to improve road safety.

Monday, 24th June 2019, 10:27 am
Updated Monday, 24th June 2019, 10:56 am
Artist impressions of Pier Point Phase Two, Marine Walk. Picture: Fitz Architects

The new leisure development at Marine Walk was given the go-ahead in phase two of the “Pier Point” project, a key part of the regeneration of Sunderland seafront.

The two-storey lot – which could be used as a restaurant, retail company or take away – is expected to create 20 jobs.

In recent months, applicant BBL NE LTD lodged a revised bid to extend the building’s floorspace back into the embankment.

This followed interest from potential tenants looking for a larger space.

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On June 18, Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee voted to defer the application over wider traffic fears.

Coun Niall Hodson said Marine Walk was a “crunch point” for traffic with new developments potentially worsening the situation.

While Coun Denny Wilson said it would be “hypocritical” to approve the plans until wider road safety issues were addressed.

“I don’t think anyone is against the development,” he told the meeting at Sunderland Civic Centre.

“But it’s a busy road and you’re adding more traffic and visitors, all we’re asking is can you get the road safety sorted as a priority.

“It’s a really big problem that we have talked about for years but haven’t got anywhere.”

Highways officers told the meeting there had been no history of accidents in the area and that wider plans were under way.

This include proposals linked to the roundabout to the north and extending the Marine Walk car park.

Planning officers also said it was not the applicant’s responsibility to deal with wider road safety issues.

And they added the applicant had agreed to provide five parking spaces to serve the planned restaurant.

However, councillors pushed for a deferment to allow a meeting with top highways officers to discuss road safety plans going forward.

Coun Wilson added: “It’s dangerous, we have said if there’s more developments coming down (Marine Walk) we would want the road safety addressing.”

The total vote included 13 councillors for deferment, two against and one abstention.

 

The development can still go ahead

 

Despite the decision, the applicant can still push ahead with original restaurant plans under previous planning permission.

And putting revised plans on hold could also lead to an application for “non-determination” –  which would see the plans go to appeal.

Committee chairman, Coun Alex Scullion, added: “Unfortunately, we’re dealing with this matter that has extant permission.

“Looking forward, I think we need to anticipate the knock-on effects in terms of road safety.

“Clearly the whole purpose of the development is to draw more people down there and I would assume more children.

“We can’t say it’s an accident waiting to happen, but I do think we should try to look to the future with that and try to mitigate it going forward.

“Let’s hope in future we get some comfort about improvements down there.”

And putting revised plans on hold could also lead to an application for “non-determination” –  which would see the plans go to appeal.

Committee chairman, Coun Alex Scullion, added: “Unfortunately, we’re dealing with this matter that has extant permission.

“Looking forward, I think we need to anticipate the knock-on effects in terms of road safety.

“Clearly the whole purpose of the development is to draw more people down there and I would assume more children.

“We can’t say it’s an accident waiting to happen, but I do think we should try to look to the future with that and try to mitigate it going forward.

“Let’s hope in future we get some comfort about improvements down there.”