Last week one of the most important meetings I attended was a briefing on the future of the Queen Alexandra College site in North Shields. It was a “closed meeting” so I’m unable to disclose all that was said. However, we did agree some headlines that all involved were comfortable to be shared in the public domain…
The meeting involved Preston ward councillors, the Council’s Head of Regeneration, one of our senior planning officers, and staff from a consultancy who were representing the College who currently own the site. It was recognised that there have been a lot of questions amongst residents about what will happen to the site, as well as quite a few rumours circulating. It was hoped that some clarity could be achieved amongst all parties as to future intentions.
I must emphasise that the project is still in the pre-planning phase, so all the following is provisional. Also, it is a private development, so the council is not driving the scheme. However, the council carries the legal duties enshrined in the formal planning application process. Therefore, from that point of view they will be keeping a close eye on plans, especially given the listed building status of the old college and the various local sensitivities.
What I am at liberty to share with residents is as follows:
- The College intends to split the site into two. The western half (the more modern part of the campus) will be developed by one company and the eastern half (the historic school/college building) will be developed by another.
- Both of the developers will be specialists in their field – new build residential homes and historic refurbishments. My understanding is that sale of the land and assets has not yet happened but that discussions are at an advanced stage and that the deals with the developers are expected to go ahead.
- The western part of the site is intended to become a low rise residential development of a similar scale and quality to Alexandra Gardens. In terms of compliance with the principles of affordable housing a percentage of the properties will be discounted for key workers etc.
- The eastern part of the site consists of the heritage listed college building that some residents will have gone to school in many years ago. The intention is to refurbish the building to a high standard, creating apartments for people 55+.
Later in the spring (potentially mid May) there will be a local consultation event for residents at which plans will be showcased and resident feedback sought. I will keep you posted when a date and venue have been agreed.
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