These proposals follow a 50% cut in contribution to the shared Tyne and Wear Specialist Conservation Team which was enacted in 2014. If this cut goes ahead it is acknowledged by the Council that the protection of the historic environment, including archaeology, will be impacted adversely. The CBA is deeply concerned, however, that the full impacts have not been fully recognised or made clear and alternative options have not been demonstrated to have been explored.
Without such services the ability of the Council to deliver sustainable development under the planning system will be severely compromised. It could lead to a situation where there will be virtually no specialist advice on matters which affect heritage assets, with undesignated assets particularly at risk. This is a situation which will affect the quality of the environment in Gateshead and potentially leave lasting scars on the historic townscape, erode significance and contribute to the loss of the town’s irreplaceable heritage. The services proposed to be cut also provide other important functions which contribute to positive changes in the town, including regeneration, income generation, attractiveness to businesses, high quality urban design, and enhanced public understanding of and engagement with heritage and archaeology.
The CBA is calling upon the Council to review other options that could avert the complete withdrawal from the delivery of specialist advice. We are keen to be a part of this process and are happy to offer assistance if required.
The consultation closed on 30th December, but if you live in Gateshead and wish to comment on these proposals you can find details here.