Residents’ fury at plans to turn former bakery into homes for ex-offenders

Putting Hartlepool First's Darren Price with the petition from Foggy Furze residents against the DISC proposal
Putting Hartlepool First's Darren Price with the petition from Foggy Furze residents against the DISC proposal

ANGRY residents have launched a community campaign over fears that drug addicts, alcoholics or ex-offenders could move into a former bakery earmarked for social housing.

People living in the Foggy Furze area of Hartlepool have launched a petition after drug and alcohol charity Developing Initiatives and Supporting Communities (DISC) bought the former Anderson’s bakery, on the corner of Ashgrove Avenue and Windermere Road.

Putting Hartlepool First's Darren Price with the petition from Foggy Furze residents against the DISC proposal

Putting Hartlepool First's Darren Price with the petition from Foggy Furze residents against the DISC proposal

DISC has lodged a planning application to turn the bakery into social housing, though charity chiefs say the facility could be “potentially for ex-offenders or recovering addicts”.

Andrew Harper, DISC’s business development and marketing manager, said: “It will be social housing, not for a particular group.

“It’s potentially for ex-offenders or recovering addicts, but it’s a range of people, we are not barring particular groups.”

But locals fear that the development could bring with it crime and anti-social behaviour – and some are considering moving if the plans get the go-ahead,

More than 500 people have so far signed the petition against the plans.

The two-storey bakery has been closed for a number of years and the plans for accommodation for four people would incorporate the adjoining house.

Carol Campbell, a 59-year-old retired teacher who has two children and 10 grandchildren and lives in Ashgrove Avenue, said she knew nothing of the plans until her neighbours told her.

She said her neighbour inquired with the council and was told that the accommodation would be for vulnerable adults.

Carol, married to taxi-driver Jimmy, added: “I looked on the DISC website and when I saw who their clients were, alarm bells started ringing.

“We have got three schools in close proximity to this, Stranton, St Aidan’s and St Cuthbert’s, and it’s a direct route to one of the schools, so families will be walking past it.

“From a residents’ point of view, we are not guaranteed who we are going to get there.

“I don’t want to have to move because of this, I have lived here more than 20 years, but we would have to.

“I know these people have to go somewhere, but this area has got more than its fair share of problems.

“To add more people to the problems I think it’s just unfair.”

Darren Price, a member of Putting Hartlepool First, who lives in nearby Kathleen Street, has been working with residents on the campaign.

He said: “Residents from the Ashgrove Avenue area are really up in arms about it.

“We got in touch with DISC to try and find out what the plans are, but they haven’t been back in touch.

“No matter what it’s going to be, everybody is against it.

“They feel that there are already social problems on the other side of Stockton Road, and this will be bringing it over the other side, especially if it is drug users.”

A DISC spokesman said the charity became a registered social landlord and has been building up a portfolio of social housing as part of the national empty homes initiative, helping to “improve” and “enhance” neighbourhoods by bringing properties back into use.

He said: “We are currently in the process of re-modelling a property into four self-contained one bedroom flats for the provision of affordable and social housing, increasing the housing options for those impacted by the bedroom tax.”

The spokesman said the work has been done openly through advertising for suitable accommodation over the past year, through promotional postcards and posters advertising for private landlords.

“We are happy to meet with any concerned residents to discuss the nature of our work and the benefits it has for both neighbourhoods and for the people of Hartlepool with a housing need,” added the spokesman.

The petition is available in venues including Jane Moore’s hairdressers, Smith and Associates dentist’s and the Co-op, all in Stockton Road, and Belle Vue Social Club.