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PARKING JAM FEARS: Middlesbrough dance studio bid delayed

PARKING JAM FEARS: Middlesbrough dance studio bid delayed

Image: LDRS

FEARS of parking jams from future dance competitions have seen a bid to convert a former church delayed for the time being.

Natalie Woodgate wants to convert Ormesby Methodist Church on the corner of Pritchett Road and Ladgate Lane into a dance studio and community events centre.

But doubts about surrounding roads coping with demand if the studio proved popular saw Middlesbrough Council planning committee defer their decision.

Documents prepared for Monday’s meeting showed 14 parking spaces are available at the former church site.

And planning officials had recommended the change of use for approval – judging the conversion wouldn’t have “any notable detrimental impact” on nearby roads.

However, councillors revealed their own experiences of traffic troubles on the stretch before agreeing to push back their decision to get more information.

Cllr Graham Wilson, member for Brambles and Thorntree, said Pritchett Road was “narrower than it looked”.

He added: “I firmly believe parking could be an issue if you have dance competitions going on because you’ll have more than 14 cars there.

“There would definitely be more than 20 I’d imagine.”

Labour councillor Janet Thompson told the committee she used to attend classes at the building when it was a church.

She added: “People turning up for the class couldn’t get parked – they were parking right along the High Street.

“I have had first-hand experience of parking in that area.”

Three objections were sent to the council ahead of the meeting with worries about loss of privacy, noise and parking.

Council reports stated it was likely classes would take place at different times – spreading out the number of arrivals and departures near the building.

More spaces had been desired by highways chiefs – but they found it would be difficult to justify refusing the plans based on lack of parking.

Planning officer Andy Glossop said the plans did not meet the parking standards they normally expected.

He added: “If this was a brand new application on a completely empty site, we’d be considering this slightly differently to how we are now as there’d be no fallback position.

“But, from an officer’s perspective, is we can’t ignore the fact there is an existing church there.”

Mr Glossop suggested councillors could defer the application for a later date so officials could discuss parking measures and “small changes” with the applicant.

Cllr Lee Garvey said he’d done photography jobs at the church when it was at capacity – and parking hadn’t been that bad.

The member for Berwick Hills and Pallister wanted to see more dance studios to get youngsters active in the town.

Cllr Garvey added: “They are highly disciplined places where children can go and enjoy themselves.

“I’m good friends with people who run dance schools and they normally have drop-offs – not parking.

“They will drop children off and pick them up later.”

The independent suggested garden land at the front of the church could be used for extra parking space if demand rose.

In the end, councillors wanted more information on how many classes and competitions would be held and what could be done to create more parking space.

The panel voted 10 to nil to defer their decision.

Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter


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