A Ninth Aniversary

On 4th March 2014, the Planning Manager of South Tyneside Council was thanked for admitting that UK Docks’ Shed on River Drive was nearly 3m taller than the one for which they had been given permission. Please see highlighted items below:-

  1. in paragraph beginning:- When he sent them, 28-Jan-14,
  2. in paragraph beginning:- To counter all of major misrepresentations of the shed’s height . . .

Extract from EIR 17772 – taken from FoI response, 16-Feb-17

Inspection type(s) Intermediate
Four portal frames in place and work proceeding on the fifth (and final).
Met _ _ _ _ _ _ (UK Docks) on site.
Inspection type(s) Intermediate
Five frames fixed. Site is closed. No sign of builders plant on site, Construction appears to have been suspended.
Inspection type(s). Intermediate
No further progress since last site visit
Inspection type(s) Intermediate
Work commenced on fixing cladding to framework. Fixings at 2 per sheet per rail with approximately 150mm end laps. Cladding approximately 30% complete
Inspection type(s). Intermediate
New overhead crane installed and cladding at approximately 60% complete. No one on site, no access for full inspection.

Work recommenced between 25-Nov-13 and January 2014 so the yard was shut for about 3 months.

No record of the fact that the frames were 2.7m and 0.9m, taller and wider than planned in spite of the fact that Messrs Cunningham and Atkinson received a complaint that it was 2.8m and 1m wider than the approved plans allowed in January 2014.

The Principal Planning Manager, Mr P Cunningham wrote, 13-Jan-14:- “The queries that you raise are not new, indeed I have been repeating my response to them for some time now, and you will recall that I explained the planning aspect of the Council’s position to you regarding this development during our meeting.

Non approved plans 8296/1A or 1B: I was sent a copy of each following the meeting, where we were told that the shed was not taller than planned but neither of these two drawings had been authorised. Two days later, the Planning Manager, Mr G Atkinson, compounded the lie, when he said on 15-Jan-14, under the title Approved Drawings:- “That shows the overall height of the structure as 15.5m above the foundation level at the landward end.

Also under that title, he said there was a second drawing was received by TWDC on 4th June 1996 from the developer’s agent and it was numbered 8296/2. He later said in the same email that:- “The dimensions of the steelwork have been checked on site and they are in accordance with the measurements shown on the approved drawings. The variation in the angle of the pillars is not considered to be material.

Neither 1A nor 1B showed any evidence of having been anywhere near the authorising body and I wrote:- “Your further discussion tells me about two more drawings, Nos. 8296/2, 8296/4, that are date stamped and approved by Tyne and Wear Development Corporation in 1996. Why have these two drawings not been provided to residents and why are they not available on the planning portal?

When he sent them, 28-Jan-14 (1), it does not take long to discover why they had not been posted to the planning portal. It wasbecause 8296/2 contradicts all of what they had been telling us since the question of the shed’s height was raised by Ms Todd in September 2013 though he tried to hide the truth of it when he claimed on the 28th:- “It is therefore reasonable to say that 8296/1A, 8296/1B, 8296/2 and 8296/4 represent the development which was approved in 1996 (the only difference between 1A and 1B being to the foundation detail).

It was more a fraudulent misrepresentation than something reasonable to say but I let it rest and stuck with 8296/14 when I wrote to him, 3-Feb-14 and a week and a half later he admitted that he had been economical with the truth in the emails of the 15th and 28th when he said, 13-Feb-14:- “the current structure is not built to approved plans”, but later in the same email wrote:- “why did we determine the elevation on 8296/14 is the south end? (some irrelevant detail.)The engineer chose to show a gable elevation of the structure (not drawn to scale) on the same drawing”

Those last two statements were blatant lies because:-

  1. the elevation is of the north end of the shed;
  2. The gable end was accurately drawn to a scale of 1:100, so much so, that one could easily determine the approved dimensions from a screen. Nobody, in 9 years, has ever questioned the additional notes (15.6m x 12.2m).

He concluded the email with:- The only thing I can add is that if you feel the Council should be taking some action that it has not done already, then please let me know what that should be.

To counter all of major misrepresentations of the shed’s height (2), made by the Planning Manager, do not forget the main one made on the 15th Jan, I wrote and thanked him for conceding to the 20+ who met at South Shields Sailing Club in March 2014, that they were right about the height of UK Docks’ shed, and I deliberately referred to the approved plans from 1966:- “Thank you also for confirming that the Slipway Shed is not built to the approved 1996 plans.

He had asked me, in February, what action he should take and I requested that the shed be removed:- The immediate response from residents was to request the slipway construction be removed. However the universally agreed request of Council, is that there is immediate cessation of work on the Slipway Shed

They did not stop work, so we decided to raise a petition and I sent a reminder to the Planning Manager, 20-Mar-14, the main point being:-“Why has the council not used its powers of enforcement to stop the work?, you have admitted that the shed is not built to plan. If any resident had built a construction that breached their planning approval, they would surely have been asked to remedy it or at least to submit a retrospective planning application.

It turned out that a decision had been made to maintain the lie that the shed had been built to approved plans and he prevaricated when he said a day later:- “Before the Council makes any decisions on the planning aspects of this case, we need to have a full understanding of the history of the site, and analyse all the facts. This is a complex matter and will take some time.

Yet another misrepresentation, it was not a complex matter, the approved plans said the shed should be 12.7m high where it was 15.5m at that point and meanwhile our Petition was gathering signatures and the Gazette was summonsed to give out some misinformation, 1-Apr-14, 36ft is 11m after all.

They were preparing the ground for the response to the Petition which had gathered about 200 signatures by the time it was presented to the Town hall on the 3rd April and the rest of this sorry tale was covered in Shed and Corruption Part – 1, with particular attention to the part played in it by the Head of Development Services. Mr G Mansbridge.

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