To determine a full planning application from the Clerk of the Monkseaton Meeting House for conservation and renovation of the pre-1911 elements of the building. Demolition of the existing front porch and rear extensions of the building dating from 1911 to 1980. Construction of a new front porch (modelled on the existing) and rear extension connected to the main building. The front and rear gardens will be remodelled to provide access for all.
The Committee considered a report from the planning officers, together with an addendum circulated prior to the meeting, in relation to a full planning application from the Clerk of the Monkseaton Meeting House for conservation and renovation of the pre-1911 elements of the building. Demolition of the existing front porch and rear extensions of the building dating from 1911 to 1980. Construction of a new front porch (modelled on the existing) and rear extension connected to the main building. The front and rear gardens will be remodelled to provide access for all.
A planning officer presented details of the application with the aid of various maps, plans and photographs.
In accordance with the Committee’s Speaking Rights Scheme Colin Barrett of Bygate Road, Monkseaton, Gavin Kirby of Front Street, Monkseaton and Maurice Searle of Searle Town and Country Planning, had been granted permission to speak to the Committee. The Chair had requested that the speakers appoint a single spokesperson and so Maurice Searle addressed the Committee to speak on behalf of a residents group and the freeholder of Alder Court. He was critical of the applicant’s general lack of consultation with neighbouring residents. The proposed replacement of the boundary wall with Alder Court could not proceed until agreement was reached with the owners and negotiations had not yet commenced. The development would have an adverse effect on the character and ecology of the secluded gardens to the rear of the property. It was suggested that access to the Friends House should be restricted from Bygate Road via the rear garden to prevent disturbance to neighbours.
Matthew Moore, the Northumbria Area Quaker Meeting Resources Manager, addressed the Committee to respond to Mr Searle’s comments. He explained that the meeting house wished to create a welcoming, accessible and friendly place of worship and to make these facilities available for use by others. Mr Moore outlined examples of acceptable uses of the meeting house, including councillors surgeries, yoga and craft groups, mindfulness sessions and professional development. The two existing meeting rooms in the building were not fit for purpose and so the proposed development sought to improve the facilities, improve its appearance and maintain its heritage. Access to the meeting house would be from the front door on Front Street.
Members of the Committee asked questions of the speakers and officers and made comments. In doing so the Committee gave particular consideration to:
a) the extent to which the Committee could consider the issues raised in relation to access to the meeting house from Bygate Road and ownership of the boundary wall; and
b) the impact of the proposed development on the amenity of those occupying 21 Front Street.
The Chair proposed acceptance of the planning officer’s recommendation.
On being put to the vote, members of the Committee voted unanimously for the recommendation.
Resolved that the application be permitted subject to the conditions set out in the planning officers report.
(Reasons for decision: The Committee concluded that, having regard to the relevant policies contained in the Council’s Local Plan 2017 and National Planning Policy Framework, the proposed development was acceptable in terms of the principle of development, its impact on the character and appearance of the site and surrounding area, the residential amenity of neighbouring residents and on the highway network.)