49 new homes planned

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DOZENS of new homes are set to be built on a plush housing estate despite concerns from nearby residents.

Bellway Homes has been granted permission to build 49 homes at Middle Warren, on the Bishop Cuthbert estate, in Hartlepool.

The houses, to be built on vacant land off Merlin Way, will be bounded to the north by the access road to Hartfields Retirement Village and to the east by an area of land set aside for a neighbourhood park.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee approved the plans by just one vote despite concerns from the Hartfields Residents’ Association.

John Robson, the association’s chairman, called on developers to swap the new housing development with the park area, which is subject to a separate full application, so the park was further away from the retirement village.

Mr Robson said: “We don’t need to be disturbed by a play park late into the night.”

But committee members were told they had to consider the application in front of them on its own merits and that construction firm Leebell Developments already has outline permission for the park area.

Officers had spoken to the developers about potentially switching the sites around, but were told it was not possible because a car park had already been built and issues surrounding levels.

Ten other residents also objected ahead of the meeting with concerns over access arrangements, traffic congestion and calls that the encroachment on to the green wedge is unacceptable.

Putting Hartlepool First group leader Geoff Lilley asked how the density of the site compared with elsewhere and he was told it compared to other parts of Middle Warren.

Independent councillor Keith Fisher asked if the location of the housing and play area could be renegotiated.

But Chris Pipe, planning services manager, said: “In an ideal world we would be looking at both of them together, but we can’t delay for those reasons.

“The developer will not swap the sites.”

Labour councillor Paul Beck spoke as ward councillor for the Hart ward and raised concerns about road safety.

The development will be a mix of three and four bed two-storey detached and semi-detached homes.

The committee was split with five in favour and five against so the deciding vote went to Labour councillor Rob Cook, who chairs the committee.

He said the applications for housing and the park area had to be considered separately and “reluctantly” voted in favour of the housing development.

Coun Cook said: “I have to be conscious of the planning regulations and because of that I have to reluctantly approve this application.”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Robson, 73, who has lived in Hartfields for four years, said: “We were happy to accept they would be building houses and a play area but we wanted them swapping so the play area was further away from Hartfields.”