Residents fighting new homes plans in Hartlepool feel ‘vindicated’ after new figures released

Goverment Inspector Kevin Ward
Goverment Inspector Kevin Ward

RESIDENTS fighting plans for new homes on the edge of Hartlepool say they feel “vindicated” after revised figures showed an apparent lesser need for future housing provision in town.

Members of Fens Residents’ Association spoke when Government Planning Inspector Kevin Ward resumed his examination on Hartlepool Borough Council’s Local Plan, which will guide development in the town for the next 15 years.

Data from Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners (NLP) planning consultants suggests 465-565 houses per year would need to be built to fit in with the council’s Economic Strategy 2011-2021.

But new figures from the council show a more likely need of housing over that period as being 320 per year, with further evidence from the Tees Valley Strategic Housing Marketing Assessment arriving at 229 annually.

This is also in dispute with forecasted figures from LeeBell Developments who say this should be 350 per year, with 10 per cent extra if the economy picks up.

Part of the Local Plan is a proposed South West Extension of almost 2,500 homes from the A689 to Brierton Lane and Fens Residents’ Association disputes so much housing is needed in light of other housing developments and say it has implications for flood risk, traffic and environment.

During the meeting residents’ association treasurer Paul Mitchinson said: “The residents’ association has disputed the evidence base from day one and we are delighted it’s been updated. We feel very vindicated by these updated figures.”

He said the association supports development, but not its planned scale and location and that something should be done to regenerate the town centre rather than building on greenfield sites on the outskirts.

Paul Bedwell, of developers Yuills, said the South West Extension is “fundamental” to the council strategy.

Mr Ward said figures should be set as a minimum “that you would also wish to build in growth on top of that for aspirational purposes”.

Simon Coop, of NLP, said the latest figures, including those from think-tank Experia, were used and housing must help sustain business, such as through housing new workforces. Mr Mitchinson said: “Experia must be employing Hans Christian Anderson”, based on the town’s historic unemployment rate.