Homes plan for mansion

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PLANS to transform an arson-hit historic mansion into new homes are set to be discussed by councillors this week.

Developers want to partially demolish, extend and redevelop Tunstall Court, in the Ward Jackson Park area of Hartlepool, to create 21 new homes in the main building and 12 executive-style detached houses in the grounds.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee will meet on Friday to discuss the plans which would see the front of Tunstall Court kept intact.

A planning report said the main works to the building would see two new wings built to the rear.

The northern wing would have a terrace of five townhouses and the southern wing four.

The report added: “The retained part of the court largely consists of the main façade of the building and will be converted into nine apartments and three townhouses.

“The scheme also includes the erection of 12 detached dwellings within the grounds.”

There will also be a new access road from Park Avenue and landscaping works.

It is the second time that owner Ruttle Property Holdings has submitted plans for the site to council planners.

Last time round officers called for changes – which relate to the rear of the building – to be made which led to a second round of consultation.

In the first round there were five letters of objection and second time round there were two, plus two letters of support and 10 of no objection.

Concerns raised include increased traffic on Park Avenue, too many houses for the site, loss of trees and concerns that too much of the original house will be removed.

The Hartlepool Civic Society and Victorian Society have both objected, while English Heritage has called for further talks to take place about the design.

The leader of the Conservative group, Ray Wells, who represents the Park ward, said he has held dozens of meetings with interested parties in an attempt to get the best “possible solution” for the prominent site.

The building has been hit by more than 30 fires in the last five years causing councillors to label it a “deathtrap”.

Coun Wells said: “I accept that not everybody is happy with the proposals, but there has not been a single objection from the direct neighbourhood.

“I represent the people of Park ward, the people who are affected by this site on a day-to-day basis.

“I believe that while conservation areas are important we should hold the quality of life of residents to be the most important deciding factor.”

Coun Wells, who sits on the planning committee, will declare a pre-determination interest on Friday and will not vote, but reserves the right to speak as a ward councillor.

Originally built for the Furness shipbuilding family in 1894, Tunstall Court was taken over by the council who used it as a training venue before selling it in 2005.

The house is not listed.

The planning committee will meet on Friday at 10am, at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.