Government inspector calls for 200 more homes to be built on controversial sites in Hartlepool

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A GOVERNMENT-APPOINTED planning inspector has urged Hartlepool Borough Council to build 200 houses on sites the authority previously rejected.

Kevin Ward held a public examination into the current Hartlepool Local Plan blueprint which will shape development in the town for the next 15 years.

After considering the plan for soundness, Mr Ward has made a series of proposed amendments to the council before it can be officially adopted.

They include building 100 new homes each at Quarry Farm and Tunstall Farm sites which were previously considered by the council but not included in its final proposals.

Rural West ward councillor Ray Wells, who is also Conservative leader, said: “He has clearly ignored localism and been swayed by pressure from big developers.

“I really am appalled at this decision and I vow to fight for my residents and to take this as far as I need to, to stop these two developments going ahead. How can a full council of elected members make a decision and then an unelected individual turn up and overturn it.”

Mr Ward also suggests land at Hart Smallholdings West for a gypsy and traveller site.

But the entire Local Plan could be thrown out to start again if a motion by the Labour group is successful.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “The planning inspector has asked the council to confirm that it would be prepared to carry out further consultation and a sustainability appraisal of the modified Local Plan on his behalf.

“I would not endorse any more work on a Local Plan that is unpopular with local people. The best approach would be to withdraw the current Local Plan, do our own modifications and then carry out a consultation exercise and sustainability appraisal.

“As previously indicated, we will be moving the withdrawal of the Local Plan at tonight’s meeting of the full council.”