TOWN leaders have urged business, developers and residents to have their say on a “critical” planning blueprint that will shape the future of Hartlepool.
Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher was speaking at the launch of a consultation into the 15-year Local Plan, after the last draft was controversially axed last October at a cost of £1.5m.
Regeneration officers at Hartlepool Borough Council say the first step in producing the new Local Plan is to seek people’s views on the ‘Issues and Options’ stage with the focus on regeneration, housing, improving the environment and economy.
Councillors attended the launch event at the Hartlepool Maritime Experience alongside developers, businessmen and representatives from residents’ associations and parish councils.
The last Local Plan was axed over concerns about the proposed gypsy and traveller site at Hart Village and questions over the housing provision in town. There are no firm proposals yet and officials are calling on people to have their say.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “Rightly or wrongly we as a council decided to withdraw the draft Local Plan. We made that decision and I still believe that decision was right for Hartlepool. One reason was that it did not fulfil the aspirations of the people of Hartlepool.”
The council leader added: “The Local Plan is critical and we need people to be brutally honest about how Hartlepool is to grow so that we end up with a plan that everybody can be proud of.”
Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, also spoke alongside Tom Britcliffe, the council’s planning policy team leader.
The panel were asked about housing supply, community facilities, brownfield sites for housing, affordable housing, bus services and transport links during a 30 minute question and answer session with invited guests.
Sue Watson, of Greatham Parish Council, said she felt there needed to be a “different mindset” adding “a lot of what was said last time was ignored”.
But Mr Wilson said: “We are not setting out, saying here is your Local Plan. We are saying this is your chance to shape the Local Plan.”
Coun Akers-Belcher added: “We want to look at Hartlepool as a whole and we are listening to people.”
After the questions there was then a drop-in public consultation event to give residents the chance to find out more about the process and how to have a say about what the future Hartlepool should look like.
The detailed draft proposals for the Local Plan are expected to be published in January 2015 before a further period of consultation.
Then it will be submitted to the Secretary of State before a planning inspector examines the proposals in a public examination, expected to be held in November 2015. It is expected to be fully adopted in 2016.
The current consultation runs until July 18 and copies of the consultation document can be obtained from the Civic Centre, all libraries and via the council’s website www.hartlepool.gov.uk
Officers said they are also willing to visit groups of residents or businesses to outline the Local Plan process. For more information, people should call Mr Britcliffe at Hartlepool Council on (01429) 523532.