Core Strategy plans backed ahead of consultation

COUNCILLORS have agreed plans to send a major 15-year planning blueprint out for a further six-week consultation despite concerns from residents.

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

The final draft of the Core Strategy was approved at Thursday’s meeting of the full council ahead of the six-week consultation period, which starts on Monday.

Key features include:

l Expanding the south-west with land at Claxton, Brierton and west of Eaglesfield Road earmarked for a total of 2,400 houses;

l Identifying the Wynyard area as a location for executive housing;

l Improvements to the green infrastructure networks, new green wedges within the south west extension and Golden Flatts and retention of strategic gaps between the town and the villages of Hart and Greatham.

But town resident Paul Mitchinson asked why full council was giving final approval to the core strategy just four days before the beginning of the consultation.

Mayor Stuart Drummond said the statutory process meant the council had to approve the strategy before the consultation period.

But Mr Mitchinson said: “I am taken aback because how can you approve something before a consultation exercise?

“The approval should come after the event.”

Mayor Drummond said it may seem “perverse”, but added: “I don’t make the rules.

“We are sticking with the statutory process under planning law.

“We have had two periods of statutory public consultation after which cabinet considered the representations and adjusted it accordingly.

“The final draft of that is here tonight for agreement.

“Once it has been approved there is a final six-week public consultation.”

The public can have their say by visiting the council’s website.

After the public consultation period the Core Strategy will then be 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.

Any objectors will also be able to make their views known at the public examination stage.

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson praised officers for the work that has gone into the strategy.

Coun Thompson added: “There have been two public consultations already and I am pleased that voices from the Fens and Greatham area have been heard so that the document includes a new green wedge and strategic gaps at the south west extension.

“I hope that the council trusts planning officers and developers to keep the rural areas safe for future generations.”

But independent councillor Geoff Lilley, who represents the Greatham ward, said he had no problem with council planners but “trusting developers is part of the problem”.

He said he felt “uneasy” about the consultation process and hoped people’s views and objections would still be listened to.

People can have their say by visiting the council’s website www.hartlepool.gov.uk