Cllr A: Width in Detail

Material Divergence of nearly a meter on Width.

When I sent Cllr A: To Graeme, it was mainly about the height, to the Chairman of the TGA, and this notice deals with the width. It is published here for reference.

I wish to make it clear from the outset that all the plans or drawings give a planned width of 12.2m (Figure1) as I did not make this clear in my email to the Chairman of the TGA.

When Tyne Slipway and Engineering renewed their slipway in 2001 they laid the footings for the shed to beat the five year rule and at the same time they made them for a bigger shed than that for which they had been given permission. Some 5m longer (a sixth frame) and a meter wider than planned.

Move on 12 years, and control of the slipway had been passed to UK Docks and this presented the new owner Mr J Wilson with a problem. His business on Commercial Road was going to have to finish because Port of Tyne planned to close off Tyne Dock with their extension of River Quay and his contract with the Ministry of Defence required that the work be done under cover and there was no cover over the slipway on River Drive.

For that, he needed approval for the footings laid in 2001 if the shed was to be built with planning permission. If there no objections, that would have been easy, he could apply for approval retrospectively and an obliging Council could easily push it through planning. There were very strong objections in 2001 especially from his immediate neighbours which is probably why it was not attempted then. These protests, half a dozen or so, were still on file when I examined the archive in late 2013.

Most of our objections in 2013 were about the height and it was the Council’s reluctance to discuss this lead to the resurrection of the TGA in November 2013. This subsequently proved to be a pointless exercise as the Council had already measured it in September 2013 and ignored the fact that it was definitely too wide (1m) and probably too high (2.7m).

It looks likes applying retrospectively for planning permission was no longer an option so an alternative strategy was needed for Mr Wilson to get his bigger shed and that was to say that the shed had been built to approved plans and for the Council to back him. In the meantime the sixth set of footings could be overlooked and hopefully forgotten.

It appears to have been a successful strategy. UK Docks had permission for a shed 22m x 15.5m (river end) x 12.2m and it is now 27.5m x 18.2m (river end) x 13.1m. Each of these is in breach of planning control.

Misrepresentation of the plans and drawings by the Council helped UK Docks with the height but it was the TGA steered by the Chairman and Treasurer against the wishes of the other residents that initiated this process particularly in respect of the extra width:

The dimensions measured by the Council in September are as follows:
Length 22.254m
Width 13.1m
Height at end facing River Drive 15.5m
Height at end facing river 18m

Planning Manager, 28-Jan-2014

All the drawings from 1996/7, approved or not, give a width of 12.2m.
The approved drawing from 1996 with dimensions, 8296/2, gives a road end height of 12.7m and the Agent’s Drawing from August 2013 confirms this:

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.

Head of Development Services, response to Petition, 02-May-2014

  •  the width had been a material consideration since February 2001;
  • the Head of Development  had been misinformed about the height.

Customer Advocacy was asked who was responsible for ensuring that structures were built to plan in 2001 but tellingly they declined to answer. In 2013, we were told in no uncertain terms by Mr Cunningham himself, that  the building controller for this development was a Mr M Telford:

I have measured the structure concerned and it is a meter wider than the date stamped plan provided. Therefore the footings placed in 2001 must have been set a meter wider as well.

M Dawson, to attendees, 16-Dec-13

Mr Dawson – when did you get access to measure the structure on site ?

Mr Cunningham, 16-Dec-13

Please see below the reply from Peter (Cunningham).

” Hello – I confirmed at our meeting with Mr Dawson and others on 25th Sept Nov 2013 that I had measured the width and length of the ground floor external footprint and height of the structure and that these dimensions were all in accordance with the attached approved drawing and planning permission.

Councillor Anglin, 19-Dec-13

Dear Peter, I have sufficient skills in surveying to be able to measure the width of the structure without access to the site and can say with confidence that it is 13.20m wide give or take 0.05m. The towers are vertical and it would seem to me that it is reasonable to assume that the footings, laid in 2001, are the same width.

M Dawson, 19-Dec-13

I note in your e-mail of yesterday evening that you appear to have measured the structure from outside the boatyard site, and I am unsure how accurate that could be,

Chair TGA, 20-Dec-13

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…this is the end of the matter as far as I am concerned.

Mr Cunningham, 20-Dec-13

  • the measurements were made in September (17th) on site by Mr Cunningham. They were not the ones approved in 1996;
  • Mr Cunningham and the Chairman of the TGA were trying to discredit my findings about the width of the shed as both their replies of the 20th December go to show.

Finally the Ombudsman was misinformed and did not uphold my complaint about the shed:

23 . . . It decided the degree of departure from the plans – less than one metre – was “non-material.” Given the overall scale of the building, its decision is sound.
34. I have seen the 1996 plans. On plan 1/B the applicant has written the proposed elevations at the inland end as 12.5 metres plus 3 metres.

Ombudsman, 15-Apr-15

  • 1/B is not a valid document from 1996.


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