AMBITIOUS plans for 2,000 new homes in Hartlepool could bring with it a £39m investment in the town according to developers.
Tunstall Homes is looking to build the homes along with shops, care homes and possibly a new school on land at High Tunstall Farm, off Elwick Road, in the West Park area of the town.
Developers say the number of houses would mean a £24m New Homes Bonus boost from central government plus a £9m retail and £6m leisure spending injection to the town thanks to the new residents.
But the plans – which include the first stretch of a new western bypass – have been objected to by residents in the village of Elwick, who have concerns about the impact the huge new 270-acre estate would have on them.
The plans were presented to councillors on Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee at a special meeting, known as a pre-application forum, which is a chance for developers to present their plans before a full application is submitted.
Steve Barker, a consultant at agents Prism Planning, said the plans are for up to 2,000 homes, a new primary school or an extension to an existing school - that is still to be decided - plus a new bypass road from the A179 into the estate, shops, care homes and a vast drainage system.
The estate would be a mix of two, three, four and five-bedroom homes with some executive style housing to be accessed from Coniscliffe Road, the rest of the houses would be accessed by the new main road which is “critical” to the development and would be funded by the developers.
Mr Barker said: “The benefits include the start of the western bypass, improved access from the A19, 2,000 new homes which would result in £24m in the New Homes Bonus - that is what the Government would give the town for a scheme of this size.
“Also, hundreds of new construction jobs, more than £9m spent in local shops every year by new residents and nearly £6m in local leisure spending.”
Mr Barker admitted there were still a number of “key issues” including requiring a full environmental impact statement, the affordable housing element is still to be decided and he said the scheme wouldn’t be able to progress without the new link road.
A full planning application is expected to be submitted to the local authority by the end of August.
Mr Barker, who said he didn’t anticipate any “radical” changes, added: “It will take as long as it takes to get through to a positive solution.”
Conservative group leader Ray Martin-Wells asked how many executive houses would be on the site and Mr Barker said it is likely to be around 25.
Labour councillor Marjorie James quizzed Mr Barker on the affordable housing element and said she didn’t see why that had to be dependent on the cost of the new road.
Mr Barker said the developers need to make sure the plans are “commercially viable” and said further work will be done on the affordable housing part of the plans.
Roderick Thompson, of Elwick Parish Council, then spoke to raise some of the concerns from residents in Elwick Village which is on the outskirts of town and close to the planned estate.
Mr Thompson said: “We have serious concerns about the sheer scale of the development and what impact that will have on the rural area.
“We have traffic concerns and we simply could not take a development of this size. Also, what guarantees are there that it won’t be extended to 3,000 homes in future?”
Paul Cornfoot, transport advisor for Fore Consulting, said they are “aware of the potential issues” and said the new road is crucial to the scheme and he argued it would bring an “immediate relief” to the villages.
But Mr Thompson said that did not answer the concerns over traffic and said motorists will still take the most direct route to the A19, which would be through the villages of Elwick and Dalton Piercy.
The developers added that they are working closely with the Higways Agency on the traffic plans.
Pre-application forums are part of the council’s One Stop Shop, pre-application advisory service which provides advice on planning matters prior to the submission of a formal planning application.
At the meeting there was an opportunity for councillors and other interested parties such as the Parish Council to seek clarification on any points or raise issues.
Members of the public were allowed to watch inside the council chamber at the Civic Centre but not to ask questions.