Developer wins appeal to build 110 new Hartlepool homes

The entrance to the Tunstall Farm site off Valley Drive where plans for 110 new homes have been approved.
The entrance to the Tunstall Farm site off Valley Drive where plans for 110 new homes have been approved.

A new housing development, which was previously refused by Hartlepool councillors amid flooding fears, has been approved on appeal.

Developer Taylor Wimpey appealed to The Planning Inspectorate after permission to build up to 110 homes on land at Tunstall Farm, in the West Park area of Hartlepool, was refused by Hartlepool Borough Council last September.

The fact that this site is available and deliverable weighs in favour

Planning inspector Isobel McCretton

Permission was initially refused after councillors heard fears from councillors that the new development could worsen flooding problems in the wider area by putting more pressure in the drainage system and could prevent the new residents and emergency vehicles from accessing the site.

But permission was allowed after the appeal was heard by inspector Isobel McCretton, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

She heard how there was a history of flooding in the area along the length of Valley Drive to Egerton Road and beyond.

A scheme to improve the situation was completed in 2011 but it did not prevent flooding in Valley Drive in November 2012 and May 2013.

It was found to be caused by a blockage in the culvert at the entrance to Hardwick Court and further works proposed by the Environment Agency are due to be completed soon.

The new development proposes to redirect surface water run off from Tunstall Farm Beck into another drain.

Northumbrian Water also said no surface water would enter its sewerage system which it said would also be able to cope with the new housing.

Ms McCretton said in her decision report: “I can understand that local residents feel that any improvements to the flood alleviation measures should be tried and tested before any further development in the area is allowed, but ultimately the onus on the appellants is not to solve the existing problems, rather it is to demonstrate that the proposed development would not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere.

“In terms of surface water drainage the Environment Agency has stated that it considers the proposal to be a betterment to the current surface water drainage situation and so there is, in fact, the potential for the flood risk in Valley Drive to be lessened as a result of the proposed development.”

Residents also raised concerns about the level of traffic caused by the development, estimated to be around 100 extra car journeys a day.

But Ms McCretton said a number of proposed improvements, including a new right hand turn lane into Park Road and new pedestrian crossing near The Whitehouse pub, would help the flow of traffic.

The Park Residents’ Association also challenged there was a need for the new housing and pointed to over 1,200 existing homes on the market.

The Tunstall Farm scheme would also see the developer make a financial contribution towards affordable housing elsewhere in the town.

The inspector added it was not disputed that the council cannot demonstrate it can meet housing demand for the next five years and said: “Thus the fact that this site is available and deliverable weighs in favour of the scheme.”

The development proposals are for a mix of detached family homes including between three and five bedrooms on three fields that are currently farmland.

In her conclusion Ms McCretton said she could find no negative effects of the development that significantly outweighed its potential benefits.