ROMAN remains of “national and international importance” are to be built over after developers won a long-running legal battle for planning permission.
In 2005, archaeologists opposed plans to build a special needs nursing home at Carville Road, Wallsend, next to the Segedunum Roman Fort.
But after North Tyneside Council refused planning permission last year, development company Tanner and Tilley took the case to appeal. On July 6, the planning inspector ruled against the council and allowed the two-storey building to go ahead as long as the foundations rest on the concrete and do not damage the remains.
Local historians have now accepted that remains of Roman ditches and buildings will have to be preserved underneath a block of concrete instead of being opened up to the public. Tyne and Wear county archaeologist Dave Heslop said the site would have to meet strict conditions before it could be built on.
He said: “It would have been nice to have these opened up and put on show, because in a sense they are quite significant.
“These are developments north of the wall and most remains we find near the wall are south of it.
“Obviously at the time there was not much fear of trouble, for at least some period.
“Everything we had been led to believe was telling us that people wanted to be on the south side of the wall, but here we have proof for the first time that some people were prepared to go outside that protective wall. We have insisted that if the proposals go ahead, it cannot be done in such a way that the foundations go deeper than 900 millimetres. This site has to be kept in-situ and we would say now there is no threat to it.
“It is a shame because it would have been ideal to leave the site open and share it but as that is not possible, we’ll just have to rest assured it will not be damaged.”
English Heritage told the council the remains should be considered “part of the wider frontier of Hadrian’s Wall and as such should be regarded as archaeology of national and international importance.”
But because the land had previously been used as a scaffolder’s yard, they agreed the new development would not have a large impact on the remains. They agreed the special needs home, for adults with acquired brain injuries, should go ahead so long as no foundations will go below 900 millimetres. MP Nick Brown had also opposed the application, telling councillors they should reject the plans because of residents’ traffic worries.
In a letter to the council, he said: “The development will generate extra traffic, which will of itself be to the detriment of its neighbours.
“The development would significantly alter the residential character of the area, which is predominately family homes.”
Councillors will meet on August 7 to decide the application, but officers have recommended the council grants permission in light of the planning inquiry outcome.
Members of the planning committee said they could not comment on applications until the meeting.
A spokesman for Tanner and Tilley said: “We welcome the application and look forward to planning permission being granted.
“The planning conditions will preserve the remains undamaged and we are happy to accept these.”