Business land allocation cut after review

Queens Meadow Business Park. Picture By FRANK REID
Queens Meadow Business Park. Picture By FRANK REID

THE amount of land prioritised for employment in Hartlepool has been reduced following a review.

An annual Employment Land Review (ELR) carried out by Hartlepool Borough Council identified an oversupply of land at the moment and recommended reductions of more than a third.

It includes sites the council says are unlikely to attract businesses in the current economic climate and others that are being developed for other uses such as housing.

The review will feed into Hartlepool’s Local Plan document and be used when considering future planning applications.

A report presented to councillors by planning information officer Nomusa Malinga stated: “The ultimate aim of the Employment Land Review (ELR) is to identify those sites that will not be deliverable within the plan period 2016 to 2031 and vice versa; and also to establish if the borough needs to allocate or deallocate (or re-allocate) any employment land through the Local Plan.

“Sites with high deliverability will be retained, protected and more investment encouraged for the plan period and beyond.”

The review recommended reducing land earmarked by the council for employment from 409.7 hectares, made up of 29 sites, to 257.9 in 23 sites, which the authority says is more realistic.

That included the dealllocation of just over 18 hectares of land at the former Centura food factory site, in Greatham, which the council said was very unlikely to be redeveloped in its current state and very limited access.

Another was around 94 hectares of land on five sites at Golden Flatts, Northburn Electronic Park, a small part of Victoria Harbour North Docks west of Marina Way, and two sites at Tees Bay retail park.

And the council says around 40 hectares of land earmarked for employment at Wynyard Park is proposed for alternative uses including housing and community facilities, or is considered undevelopable.

Council papers stated for those five sites: “A mixture of owner aspirations and site conditions suggest that the land is better suited for alternative uses or deallocation.”

Land at Golden Flatts has been reallocated as parts of it are now being developed for housing with more proposed.

The review also flagged up key areas that should be kept for employment, such as Queen’s Meadow Business Park, and sites with potential if there is interest like Oakesway that the council should continue to monitor.

The report added: “PD Ports, Able UK and several other large landowners/businesses highlighted that 
much of the land need in Hartlepool is driven by the winning or losing of major contracts.

“Such contract-led demand is impossible to predict over the long term and thus landowners must retain a strategic reserve of land which can be brought forward at short notice.

“There is a need to protect smaller employment sites along Brenda Road to provide opportunities for the development of modern small business space.”

The review’s recommendations were endorsed by the council’s Regeneration Services Committee.