RESIDENTS have told a planning inspector that a site earmarked for thousands of new homes is packed with ecological importance.
Members of Fens Residents’ Association (FRA) raised their concerns about Hartlepool Borough Council’s proposals within the Local Plan to build 2,500 homes in a south-western extension from the A689 to Brierton Lane.
A Government-appointed inspector has been examining the Local Plan, formerly known as Core Strategy, which lays down the main planning framework for the borough for the next 15 years.
The Local Plan has been prepared by Hartlepool Borough Council following public consultation and includes aspirations for Hartlepool’s future development.
Robert Smith, from the residents’ association, said data produced by Teesmouth Bird Club over the course of seven years revealed the site had several important species living there including shelducks, quails, grey partridges, cuckoos, long-eared owls, barn owls and yellow and grey wagtails.
Mr Smith said the information was based on a bird breeding survey carried out between 1999 and 2006, but he said he was not aware of any major studies being carried out since and said it was a seven year intensive survey.
He raised concerns that further expansion into the Brierton site would harm the ecology in the area.
Planning inspector Kevin Ward, who is overseeing the public examination in the Conference Facility in Hartlepool College of Further Education, told Mr Smith he would take all of the information into account.
Speaking after the session, Mr Smith said: “We are only making sure that the inspector takes everything into account.
“We are not rampant nimbys, all we wanted was to have a constructive input and we feel we have been listened to.”
Mr Smith added: “We have found the council’s planning team to be very professional with a high degree of integrity.”
The blueprint includes proposals to create the south-western extension from the A689 to Brierton Lane and delivering new housing in Upper Warren, Elwick, Hart and Wynyard.
The Local Plan also covers the overall supply of land for housing, the council’s approach to the overall mix of housing and affordable housing, provision of gypsy and traveller sites in the borough and the approach to retail and commercial development.
But before the Local Plan can be adopted by the council, it must be subject to the public examination.
Mr Ward has spent the past fortnight listening to the council’s plans and also considering any outstanding objections.
His findings will be published in spring and subject to Government approval, the proposed Local Plan would then be put before the full council for approval.