Age ruling is relaxed at apartments

PEOPLE aged under 55 will be allowed to move into an apartment block after councillors approved plans to remove a restriction on who could live there.

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

The site is a care home and apartment development, which was originally built with the intention of selling the flats to older people.

But developer William Morgan has struggled to sell the properties in the current economic climate so applied to council planners to remove the condition.

Speaking at the meeting, planning agent Rod Hepplewhite said the climate was “conspiring against prospective purchasers” and that they could not sell the properties.

Mr Hepplewhite said: “People were having their funding requests turned down.

“They were showing an interest but couldn’t get the finance.”

He added that the apartments were two-bedroomed and would not appeal to families but are aimed at older couples or people with disabilities.

The 50-bed care home and parking area is based to the north west of the site, with the rest of the site made up of 30 apartments spread over four blocks.

When permission for the development was first granted in April 2007, the age restriction was put in place.

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

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

This was not the first time that developers had come back to the planning committee to have the restrictions lifted.

A similar application was made last August for four apartments but councillors rejected the plans, a decision which was later overturned by a planning inspector.

Labour councillor Pamela Hargreaves said she did not object to the restriction being removed this time but felt the planning committee were being dictated to after the inspector had overturned the previous decision.

Coun Hargreaves said: “The thing that I find very difficult to swallow is being dictated to by a planning inspector.

“It makes a mockery of the whole system.

“When we make a decision the planning inspector tells us that we can’t. It is frustrating that we have no powers.”