‘Over 55s only’ rule scrapped

COUNCILLORS have backed plans to remove an age restriction on who can live at an apartment block.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee agreed to remove a condition which meant that only people aged 55 or over could live at 14 apartments at Sylvan Mews, The Wynd, at Wynyard Village.

The site is a 50-bed care home and apartment development originally built with the intention of selling the flats to older people.

The care home is based in the north west of the site, with the rest of the area made up of 30 apartments spread over four blocks.

But in the current economic climate, developer William Morgan has struggled to sell the apartments.

It is the fourth application to remove the restriction heard by the committee in recent months.

It now means that no apartments in the development have an age restriction.

Ahead of the meeting, planners had received five letters of objection over concerns about increased noise, traffic and disturbance and the impact on elderly residents in the care home.

There was also one objection from a resident who had bought an apartment thinking it would be for over-55s.

A planning report said: “The applicant is seeking permission to allow for the general occupation of 14 apartments.

“This will mean that the occupation of the apartments will not be restricted to persons 55 years and over.”

Planning agent Rod Hepplewhite said the developer was “unable to sell the properties”.

He added: “It is fair to say that he has learned a hard lesson.”

Labour councillor Marjorie James said: “This is like a football coming back over the fence.

“It must have been back three or four times.

“Is this any longer a suitable location for a nursing home?”

Planning officers confirmed the care home had not complained about the proposals and that there had not been any reports of noise disturbance at the site.

But Chris Pipe, planning services manager, said: “I can appreciate members frustration with this application.”

Independent councillor Geoff Lilley said he had sympathy for those that had already brought a flat believing it was to be an over 55s environment.

Conservative councillor Ray Wells added: “Those people genuinely thought that they were going to be living out their days in a quiet environment.

“There is very little we can do but I won’t be supporting this application.”

But Labour councillor Jonathan Brash said: “There is a lack of objection from people actually living on the site.”

The plans were approved by nine votes to two, with Coun Wells and his party colleague councillor George Morris voting against.

The age restriction was put in place when permission for the development was first granted in April 2007.