In early 2014 a planning application was submitted to build a large amusement centre directly across the road from Gosforth Park Nature Reserve. This is by an American owned company Max-a-Millions.
This appeared to be targetted at Stag and children’s parties. The artists’ impression is of a large fairly garish hangar type building that includes rooms where participants can take part in the type of games normally played in a park (such as kicking a football at a crossbar, throwing a basketball and golf putting), plus a 300 seater american style restaurant and an excessive 220 car parking places.
This land is designated for employent uses as part of the Gosforth Business Park, however we have been monitoring the wildlife that has moved into this area – it has reverted to nature while being unused for the past 13 years. The site supports a number of species which are listed as being of high conservation concern such as Grasshopper Warbler, Skylark and Grey Partridge. The site is used by many of the nature reserve’s mammals (eg Bats, Roe Deer, Fox, Badger and Hedgehog) and birds (eg Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush). There is also a population of butterflies such as Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Large Skipper.
Max-a-Millions sent contractors to the site who cut down all the trees and significantly damaged the ecology of the site. Unfortunately there was nothing that could be done to stop them from legally doing so. Nevertheless this is hardly the behaviour of a responsible business, which one assumes would require the support of the community to survive.
Planning policies require that if a developer can not avoid significant ecological damage that they are required to mitigate/compensate for its loss either on the site or away from the site. The mititgation that was proposed by Max-a-Millions was inadequate to compensate for the damage that would be caused and we objected to this planning application (click here to read). For a plan of the development click here for pdf version.
Despite local opposition North Tyneside Council granted planning permission for this development without asking the developer to compensate for the loss of wildlife habitat. A depressing decision which says a lot about the current weakness of local government and the priorities of local politicians. We are grateful to all the people who did contact the Council and make their views known.
What has happened since?
Thankfully the people behind Max-a-Millions were unable to secure the financial backing for this venture and it has been dropped. Unfortunately there are now plans to build houses on it.