The Shed: Approved Height v Built Height

UK Docks were allowed to build, without planning permission by South Tyneside Council (STC), a shelter on their slipway on the banks of the Tyne in South Shields. In spite of protests from the first days, that it was bigger than planned, South Tyneside Council did nothing to halt, apart from a temporary stoppage Sep-Nov 2013, the completion of the shed.

They can do this as there is no requirement for them to tell the building inspector that they have not met the conditions of any planning approval. In the case of UK Docks they knew the structure that they had erected on their slipway off River Drive in the first couple of weeks of September 2013 was going to be taller and wider than the approved plans allowed so they hid the fact that it was wider than planned from the building inspector and sent misleading plans to fraudulently misrepresent the approved height of it, to the Principal Planning Officer.

The Height at River End; permitted = 15.5m; built = 18.2m

When we started protesting that the shed was taller than planned the Principal Planning Officer went and measured it for himself and declared it was compliant:- Mr Dawson – once again – I have measured this on site and have copied the 1996 plans across to you twice already (attached again for your use) and I have explained during our meeting that the base and height of the structure are compliant.

It was not compliant with any approved drawing and what he did not realise was the fact that the gradient between each end of the shed gave scale to any side elevation of the shed and any end elevation that showed the depth of any beams (686mm), similarly gave the scale as well. It also appears that that he was content to ignore the fact that both ends of the drawings he gave out, showed the same total height of 15.5m. Here again, the side elevation will show that the river end is correct.

What UK Docks did not foresee was that while the residents/protestors knew that their shed was taller and wider than planned from the beginning, what was needed was some proof to back up their views, so that they would not be accused of making allegations. The first was drawing 8296/14 and it had been approved by the Planning Manager in October 2013 as part of ST/1146/13/COND and was coupled to their decision to fit an overhead travelling crane.

When South Tyneside Council recovered the 1996 documents there were two authorised drawings and one, 8296/2 provided proof that the Principal Planning Officer was lying when he implied that UK Docks had approval for a shed of 15.5m height at its landward end. Some in the planning office agreed with the protestors and that was why work on the shed stopped for nearly three months. It was also proof that UK Docks were in breach of the permitted height after the first frames were erected and probably why there was never a response made to the original complaint made on behalf of the residents by me.

I explained to the MP for Berwick and the Chief Executive, Mr Swales why it was unreasonable to claim that the shed had been built to the approved height but the Corporate Lead, Hayley Johnson thought otherwise and because there was no evidence to back her view she had to accuse us of making alegations.

The two approved drawings show that the shed is 2.7m taller than planned and it was therefore her, who was lying about the height of the shed, when she told the MP for Berwick on the 25th June 2015:- “The matters and allegations raised by your constituent are well documented and have been subject to a number of enquiries from Mr Dawson and other local residents over a lengthy period of time.

The Width; permitted = 12.2m; built = 13.1m

Drawing 8296/14 also shows the width to be 12.2m and that agreed with the width shown on the drawings favoured by UK Docks (8696/1B) and the Principal Planning Officer (8296/1A). When measured, he found it to be 13.1m, which we learnt in response to our Petition, was considered a material consideration from, no lesser person than, the Head of Development Services:- Apart from the width these dimensions are either entirely in accordance with the approved plan, or subject to such minor deviation that they are properly categorised as non-material changes.

By the time it got to the Ombudsman it had become:- It decided the degree of departure from the plans – less than one metre – was “non-material.” 

The inspector was easily persuaded that the shed was the permitted width and the extra set of mounting points 5.5m in front of the landward end of the five put to use when the framework for the shed was erected in September 2013, could easily be hidden under a pallet or box, if there were any visitors to the yard, until they they were needed later.

That they were needed later, to lengthen the shed, was confirmed when they were given permission to extend it onto them in February 2016 under ST/0461/14/FUL.

The Length; permitted = 22m, built = 27.5m

Footings 2010 – Six Pairs

As well as easily persuading the building inspector that the shed was the permitted width UK Docks had also hidden the fact that they had planned for a longer shed in 2001 when the footings were originally laid. The extra set of mounting points 5.5m in front of the landward end of the five put to use when the framework for the shed was erected in September 2013, could easily be hidden from view, under a pallet for example, while there were visitors to the yard, and put to use when they were needed later.

That they were needed later was confirmed when they were given permission to extend the shed onto them in February 2016 under ST/0461/14/FUL. The people on the committee, were either not told, or were told but ignored the fact, that the shed was taller than permitted and gave UK Docks permission to extend it onto the footings laid in 2001.

I concluded in letter to a former neighbour, Part 1 of Shed and Corruption:- When they heard we were trying to resurrect the dormant TGA they spotted a weak spot and Cllrs Anglin and McMillan went into action but what they and Messrs Watson and Haig did not realise was that there was a fatal flaw in their scheme. Mr Cunningham had to either to admit we were right about the shed or commit fraud.

For those that are new to the sorry story about the shed and corruption, the Principal Planning Officer, Mr Cunningham chose the latter and he did that by attempting to pass off drawing, 8296/1A, one that had not been approved because it contained an error, as one that had been approved.

Besides 1A showing both ends to have the same height it bears no evidence of having been anywhere near the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation and is very obviously the copy sent to South Tyneside MBC in April 1996 for comment before the development went before the Development Corporation for approval in July. One wonders why they never sent out an amended copy but it did not matter as 8296/2 was approved and showed that the landward end should be about 12.8m not the 15.5m as claimed by the STC Planning Officers and their Managers.

I have describe how the truth about the shed, was and still is, avoided in Shed and Corruption – Part 9 which takes us up to April 2022 and concludes with:- As I said to her in Part 4 of Shed and Corruption, see page 2, there has only been one complaint to the Chief Executive that his staff have been misleading the Ombudsman and that does not relate to persistent and unreasonable behaviour by anyone’s standards. Especially when it can be easily shown that someone has been giving misinformation/misrepresentation to them.

It was not one of the local residents nor Mr X.

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