CONTROVERSIAL plans to flatten a historic building as part of proposals to build 14 new houses are to be discussed.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee will meet on Wednesday to decide the future of Tunstall Court, in the West Park area of the town.
The building has been plagued by vandals and arsonists and owners Ruttle North East want to demolish it to make way for 14 homes.
But conservation bodies, including Hartlepool Civic Society, English Heritage, and The Victorian Society believe the building can be saved and have fiercely rejected the proposals.
A planning report, which is recommending the proposal be accepted, outlined the plans, adding: “The application seeks consent for the demolition of Tunstall Court and the erection of 14 dwellings and associated works including the provision of a new access and landscaping.”
But it has sparked anger from several town groups including Hartlepool Civic Society. Their objection read: “Members greeted these latest plans with dismay.
“A valuable, historic and beautiful building has just been allowed to deteriorate to provide a lucrative building site for a remote developer.”
Planning officers say Tunstall Court is not a listed building but is considered “locally significant” and therefore an undesignated heritage asset within the Park Conservation Area.
The grounds of the court contain the remnants of an ornamental garden to the front of the house while an area of land, to the south west, formerly within the grounds of the court, has been converted to use as a public car park.
The previous access to the property was from The Parade, with two lodge houses situated off The Parade which are both Grade II Listed, and are in separate ownerships.
A report added: “Post-war, the building was acquired by Hartlepool Borough Council and used for educational purposes, later becoming a training centre during the 1980’s. “The site was since transferred to private ownership and in recent years the house and the grounds have remained vacant.” Councillors are being recommended to approve subject to conditions being agreed.
Planning officers stressed while the building condition has deteriorated “the owner has tried to secure the building and no evidence has been provided to demonstrate that there has been deliberate neglect”.
Ahead of the meeting, there has been five letters of no objection, seven letters of support and nine letters of objection - raising concerns about access, increased traffic and anger over plans to demolish the building itself.
Councillors were originally due to meet in April but it was removed because the applicant had commissioned a structural survey and the results would not have been available. The planning committee meets Wednesday, June 18 at 10am at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.