VILLAGE leaders say it is “good news” Hartlepool Borough Council has withdrawn its controversial planning blueprint which included a permanent gypsy and traveller site at Hart.
John Littlefair, chairman of Hart Parish Council, said he was pleased the Local Plan had been axed, but stressed he wanted to make sure Hart Village won’t be the home for a gypsy and traveller site when planning officers start the process again.
The Local Plan cost £1.5m and took five years to produce but it was agreed to withdraw it after a majority of councillors backed a motion by the Labour Group at full council.
Mr Littlefair said: “It is good news that they are getting rid of the Local Plan, but I would like to see the new Local Plan and make sure a gypsy and traveller site is not incorporated in Hart Village.
“I just hope what I have heard is correct and that we won’t have to provide a gypsy and traveller site in the village. That is something that everybody has fought very hard against. Hart Village is not suitable for this type of settlement.”
The decision divided opinion among councillors with some labelling the move a “waste of time and public money” which will open the floodgates for developers, as there is no adopted plan in place.
Instead the local authority will be guided by national guidelines in the interim and could mean the council has “little control” over site sizes and nature of developments.
Councillor Jonathan Brash, who refers to himself as independent Labour, said he believed withdrawing was also down to fears that plans for 603 homes at Wynyard would not have got the go-ahead if the Local Plan had been adopted.
But council leader, Labour councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, said he recently discovered amended legislation which meant it was possible to withdraw the plan, which he said was “divisive rather than cohesive” for the whole town.
He added it would give the council the opportunity to look again at housing provision and the need and demand for a traveller site and discuss whether one is needed at all.
It also means plans for a huge 2,750 housing development next to the Fens and Owton Manor estates, known as the South Western extension, will also be reviewed.