Permission has been granted for a £120 million development of homes, offices and a hotel in Newcastle despite opposition from football fans who said it will spoil a famous view of the St James’ Park stadium.
Supporters also argued the scheme would prevent possible future development of the ground’s Gallowgate end but council planners went along with the application for the Strawberry Place site, which could generate 1,200 jobs.
Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger previously praised St James’ Park, saying it “dominates the skyline” and was a “sporting citadel”.
Fans walking to a game from the city centre are afforded an imposing view of the ground above them as they make their way up past Strawberry Place.
Despite protests from the Newcastle United Supporters Trust group and more than 1,700 objections, planners gave the go-ahead on Friday.
After the meeting, cabinet member for employment and culture councillor Ged Bell said he recognised there were objections but that the plans had been carefully considered.
He said: “Any plans the club may have to expand in future will not be restricted by this development.
“This £120 million investment will bring significant benefits to the city – apartments, offices, hotel, new public spaces and better access to a tricky site.
“Most importantly, it will create 200 construction jobs and a further 1,200 other jobs, giving the city’s economy a welcome boost.”
The developers have a £9 million agreement with Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley to buy the plot.
Permission has been given for a 21-storey building with 204 apartments, a 12-storey office block, a 13-storey hotel with 200 bedrooms, and another residential building of 10 floors with 124 flats.
The Sir Bobby Robson Memorial Garden will also be relocated to a site above the St James’ Metro station.
Newcastle United Supporters Trust criticised the club’s owner for selling the lease to the land.
In a statement after the planning hearing, it said: “Most football clubs are buying land around their stadium to safeguard its future, for commercial purposes or for stadium improvement works.
“Strawberry Place could have been used to develop a Newcastle United hotel, museum, commercial development, fan area or other commercial development for the benefit of Newcastle United while safeguarding St James’ Park.
“Instead the lease has been sold on, with one man making a multimillion-pound profit.
“That money could, and should, at the very least, have been reinvested into Newcastle United Football Club.”