Chance to have say on planning blueprint for town

Councillor Pam Hargreaves. Picture by FRANK REID. IRN

Councillor Pam Hargreaves. Picture by FRANK REID. IRN

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RESIDENTS will have a further chance to have their say on a major 15-year planning blueprint.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Core Strategy will help shape the future of town and help meet demand to build about 5,000 new homes.

The council’s cabinet committee has agreed the final version of the strategy, which is subject to a further six-week public consultation before it is submitted to government ahead of a public examination.

Under the Core Strategy, Hartlepool will expand to the south-west with land at Claxton, Brierton and west of Eaglesfield Road earmarked for a total of 2,400 houses.

At one stage of Monday’s meeting, it looked as though councillors would go back on the original decision not to build 110 executive houses on land at Tunstall Farm and Quarry Farm.

Labour councillor Pamela Hargreaves said cabinet members were guilty of “hypocrisy” at the time by saying development is “ok for one area and not others”.

Coun Hargreaves, who said they should all be in or all out, added: “I do feel strongly that we did not use the same standards across the board.”

It was agreed to remove both sites at a meeting in September.

There had also been strong objections about the plans for the Claxton area but members said the town needs to expand to meet demand.

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash said perhaps it should be looked at again.

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director regeneration and planning, said if both sites were put back in it would “significantly” knock-back the planning timetable.

It could also mean the council would not have any control if developers came forward with plans while there was no strategy in place.

He advised confirming what had been previously agreed and to let the planning inspector determine the final decision.

Mr Wilson said: “If they decide to change or make recommendations to change they will do so.”

He added the public examination stage was the “most critical” part and that everybody will have the opportunity to have their say.

Mayor Stuart Drummond, Labour councillors Ged Hall and Peter Jackson and independent councillor Hilary Thompson were in favour of sticking with the original decision.

Coun Hall said there was a danger of “unravelling a sound document”.

Mayor Drummond said: “There is no new evidence.

“I don’t think this is the right point to make amendments to it particularly as there has been no public consultation since September and now.”

The cabinet committee agreed plans to send the Core Strategy Publication document to a meeting of the full council in February.

After that there will be a further six-week public consultation before it is submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.

Mr Pickles will then appoint a planning inspector who will hold a public examination of the strategy this summer before it is allowed to be adopted by the council in the autumn.