Jesmond Synagogue to become residential property
Providence Property Limited has submitted a planning request to Newcastle City Council regarding the conversion of the former synangogue building at 39 Eskdale Terrace into 10 apartments.
The company has applied to change the synagogue’s use from a Class D1 educational building to Class C3 residential housing and is currently awaiting consideration from the local council.
The Edwardian synagogue was built in 1914 by Marcus Kenneth Glass but eventually closed down in 1986. Initially conceived as part of the Leazes Park Synagogue, Jesmond synagogue had become an independent congregation by the time of its construction.
In 1984 the council accepted a proposal to demolish the synagogue and replace it with sheltered housing, however this plan was never realised. The property was instead renovated and became part of Central Newcastle High School. Since then the synagogue has acted as the schools art’s department with facilities for ceramics, textiles and catering.
Last year, Central Newcastle High School and Church High merged together to create the Newcastle High School for Girls. A new school has been built on Tankerville Terrace, the previous site of Church High, meaning that the old Central buildings have been put up for sale.
Sanderson Weatherall have been responsible for taking the properties to market, and they believe that all of the properties offer an exciting opportunity for potential investors. Their promotional material for the sale states that “these properties are in an excellent location, close to the Jesmond Metro station and sitting within a conservation area. The range of buildings available make it a very attractive development or conversion opportunity.”
The proposed plan involves demolishing the current extension and link building, and replacing it with a smaller, one-storey extension. The proposal also requests an alteration to the parking layout, including the provision of cycle parking, as well as general landscaping on the site.
The reconfigured site will offer 10 separate residences made up of six one-bedroom apartments, and four two-bedroom apartments. The synagogue itself will house four flats on each of its two floors, with the final two flats being created in the new extension block.
Before the application can continue, The Coal Authority (CA) must undertake an investigation into the site. The CA is sponsored by the Department of Energy and Climate change and has a responsibility to investigate potential planning developments in possible mining areas.
According to records held by the CA, “the site is in an area of likely historic unrecorded underground coal mine workings at shallow depth.”
They go on to recommend that “intrusive site investigations are carried out on site in order to establish the exact situation in respect of coal mining legacy issues on the site.”
The project has yet to be given the go ahead, but some residents believe the synagogue’s exterior must be preserved in order to reflect the cultural history of the area.
Jesmond resident John North said “this former synagogue, apart from being a distinctive building, has a central part in the Jewish heritage of Tyneside. Any decisions about its future should reflect this. At the very least its distinctive frontage should be maintained and protected by listed building status.”
The number of Jews in Newcastle has diminished significantly since the 1980s, with the 2011 Census indicating that there are more people who identify as Jedi Knights then as Jews in the North East.