Compensation measures welcomed

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COUNCILLORS have welcomed a series of measures as a way of an apology by a building firm that demolished a pillbox dating back to the Second World War.

Bellway Homes knocked down the concrete pillbox on the Middle Warren site, in Hartlepool, last summer to the anger of councillors and historians.

Hartlepool Borough Council said the structure, one of two on the site, was not listed but should not have been demolished, leading the firm to apologise for the error and to offer to carry out the measures.

It was confirmed at a recent meeting of the council’s planning committee that Bellway Homes has paid £5,000 towards the upkeep of other town war memorials and commissioned a booklet about Hartlepool’s involvement in the war, which is now in town schools and the Museum of Hartlepool.

They also agreed to fund archaeological work around the pillbox and to put a marker on the site and Bellway are currently working with Tees Archaeology on those plans.

The council could have pursued a breach of planning condition notice and if that was successful the company could have been fined up to a maximum penalty of £1,000.

But instead it was agreed the package of measures would be a better approach.

Labour councillor Jim Ainslie said: “Can I just commend the officers for their work on this issue.

“We have come out with a far better deal than if we had gone down the prosecution route.”

Labour councillor Paul Beck described the £5,000 contribution as “derisory” compared to how much houses sell for on the Bishop Cuthbert estate.

But Labour councillor Rob Cook, chairman of the planning committee, said the maximum fine would have been £1,000 if the council had gone down that route and praised the brochure and the work of officers.

The Second World War brochure is called ‘Hartlepool at War – World War II Defences at High Throston and Cemetery Crossroads’, which is available to buy in the Museum of Hartlepool or can be downloaded on both the council’s and Tees Archaeology’s websites.

It draws together information about the structures that were constructed in the Hartlepool area during the Second World War.

A spokesman for Bellway Homes has previously said the demolition was an “oversight” and apologised for the error.

Under planning permission granted in 1997 any archaeological remains on the site must be properly protected.

The pillbox, one of 50 similar structures across Hartlepool, was part of General Sir Edmund Ironside’s stop lines, the last line of defence in the war to any land attacks from the south or west of the town.

They housed armed Home Guard soldiers and were built as defences in the event of German attacks.

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