Residents welcome housing review after scrapping of 2,750-home estate

Fens resident Robert Smith.
Fens resident Robert Smith.

OPPONENTS to plans for the biggest creation of housing in Hartlepool for years have given a cautious welcome to a decision to review the development.

The Fens Residents’ Association has objected to the South West Extension for up to 2,750 new homes next to the Fens and Owton Manor estates for three years.

But at last week’s full council meeting the local authority agreed to withdraw its Local Plan blueprint, which includes the South West Extension proposal.

The move, proposed by the council’s Labour group, was in response to widespread public concern over the siting of a gypsy and traveller sit at Hart village and people’s objections to the South West Extension.

The Fens Residents Association welcomed the decision but said the council should put a new plan in place “without delay”.

The group raised concerns about the need for so many houses and the impact the development could have on local traffic and safety, harm to the landscape and wildlife and flood risks.

It successfully fought for a large green wedge to be included in the early plans which were drawn up by Yuill Homes.

Residents Association chairman Robert Smith said: “Fens Residents Association gives a cautious welcome to the decision because essentially it acknowledges what we have been saying for over three years, which is that there is absolutely no need for a massive, highly problematic South West Extension.

“The element of caution arises from the council solicitor’s advice that without an up to date plan the National Planning Policy Framework would take precedence.

“Bearing this in mind it is critical that a new version of the plan, based on local realities, is put in place without delay.

“Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher did emphasise that most of the replacement plan needs no further work, it is only the policies on gypsy and traveller sites and housing need, in particular the South West Extension, which need thorough re-assessment.” In the run-up to withdrawal of the Local Plan Coun Akers-Belcher said it would let the council review the future housing provision for the whole town. He said the previous plan did not represent residents’ wishes on the two issues of gypsy and trevellers and the South West Extension.