Housing plans backed

HOUSING DEVELOPMENT: The advertisement boards on Bishop Cuthbert. (IRN

HOUSING DEVELOPMENT: The advertisement boards on Bishop Cuthbert. (IRN

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HARTLEPOOL Mayor Stuart Drummond has given his backing to a target of building 5,400 new houses in town over the next 15 years as part of a major planning blueprint.

The figure is 1,400 houses down on previous targets and Mayor Drummond said the figure is more “realistic” for Hartlepool Borough Council.

Once planned demolitions are taken into account the net number of new houses in Hartlepool would be 4,800, with an average of 320 houses being built by developers a year.

Under the previous Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), which set each local authority a target, the council had a target of 395 extra houses a year.

The council is developing a new planning blueprint, called a Core Strategy, which will lay down the main planning framework for the borough for the next 15 years.

Council officers have produced two documents; Executive Housing Need and Future Housing Provision as part of the strategy.

Identified sites for new housing include Claxton, Quarry Farm, Tunstall Farm, Wynyard Woods and the Owton Grange area.

Mayor Drummond, speaking at a meeting of his community safety and housing portfolio, said: “There was always a lot of scepticism around the previous target under the RSS and there was a feeling it was on the high side.

“The Core Strategy is a planning document for the next 15 years and it has to be aspirational; I would be disappointed if it was not. This is a far more realistic target than the RSS.”

Key areas of the draft Core Strategy, which is currently out for consultation, include the expansion of the town to the west and south-west for new housing, with new road access northwards off the A689.

Mayor Drummond quizzed council officers about the need to build so many new houses and whether the houses would be built in the current economic climate.

Planning officer Andrew Carter said that while the town’s population could stay the same, the type of housing needed does change in order to meet changing demographics, such as older people living independently in their own homes for longer.

He added that there is a need for more family homes, bungalows and executive houses in Hartlepool and fewer flats.

While there is an overall target of 320 new houses a year for the next 15 years, the policy is flexible to cater for the housing market.

Therefore the target for the first five years is 285 a year and that increases to 330 for the following five and 345 a year for the final five years.