Residents raise their concerns

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RESIDENTS worried about a major housing development on their doorstep have raised their concerns at a public examination.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s 15-year planning blueprint, the Local Plan, is currently being scrutinised by a Government-appointed planning inspector.

It includes proposals for a south west extension from the A689 to Brierton Lane which would see 2,500 homes built.

But nearby residents of Greatham village and the Fens estate have raised concerns over the impact it will have and representatives from Fens Residents’ Association, Greatham Parish Council and Greatham Residents’ Association questioned planners and developers.

Concerns centred around the scale of the development, the affect it would have on flooding at Greatham Beck, traffic and public transport in the village and the impact on amenities.

Government appointed planning inspector Kevin Ward is overseeing the examination and he heard the south west extension would include ‘local centres’ with a food store, shops, restaurant and also space for a GP surgery if one was needed.

There is also space on the site for a £5m primary school, which could be funded from developer contributions.

But Brian Walker, chairman of Greatham Parish Council, said: “There is a great concern that the facilities will have an adverse affect on the village.”

Council planning officers said the village could not be classed as a ‘local centre’ because the shops and pubs are spread out and therefore would not be protected under the Local Plan.

Mr Walker said Greatham village had three pubs, a school, a church, a community centre and half-a-dozen shops and queried what quantified a local centre.

Paul Bedwell, from Yuill Homes, which is the preferred developer for the south-west extension, questioned why residents didn’t think it was appropriate for people on the new estate to have their own facilities.

Mr Bedwell added: “We are not looking to harm existing facilities in Greatham, we are looking to encourage people on the south west extension to take advantage of facilities nearer their homes.”

Mr Walker added: “We just want the same protection as other local centres in town.”

He added the new estate should have its own facilities but the shops should be in the centre of the development and away from the A689 “trying to attract business”.

He added: “We just don’t seem to think that any thought has been given to the affect on the village adjacent to such a large development.”

Andrew Rees, of Greatham Residents’ Association, said: “We are a sustainable community and I don’t know if there has been any regard for us to be honest.”

Planning officers said the development would be screened and Mr Bedwell said the developers were “well aware” of concerns and would do what they could to take account of them.

Adrian Spawforth, managing director of Spawforths, which is the master planners for Yuills, said they are looking at a start date of 2014 with 28 houses being built in the first year and 2,200 built by 2027.