The saga of a possible new major development in Hartlepool – that could feature the town’s first dedicated forces veterans’ homes – has taken a new twist after it was revealed it will now be decided by a government minister.
Hartlepool Borough Council refused planning permission for the large SECAAH Village development off Brenda Road last November.
Appeals that are large, might be controversial or have a lot of public interestThe Planning Inspectorate
It is for 300 apartments for over-55s, a residential care home with 70 studios, 80 houses for forces veterans, 72 residential apartments, and 58 affordable apartments.
The scheme also has plans for a community centre, workshops for retail and office use, 641 car parking spaces and a bandstand.
The developers, Brenda Road Holdings Limited, lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate following the council’s refusal in April.
The appeal was expected to be decided by an appointed inspector following written representations from all interested parties.
But Government minister Greg Clark, who is the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government, has stepped in and he will make the final decision after a public inquiry is held.
The exact reason for the minister’s intervention is not known.
A Planning Inspectorate spokesman said: “The appeal is going to be dealt with through an inquiry and recovered by the Secretary of State. No date has been set for the inquiry.
“The Secretary of State has the power to recover any appeal that he feels he wants to make a decision.
“Normally they are appeals that are large, might be controversial or have a lot of public interest.”
The applicants previously told Hartlepool council the development would be a trailblazer for other parts of the UK.
They said it would allow people to access a sliding scale of care as their needs changed over time without having to move home.
Councillors refused permission on the grounds the land was intended for employment.
They were also worried that its closeness to heavy industries Tata Steel and Caparo Forge, which are major employers, could lead to noise complaints from the new residents, potentially putting jobs at the works at risk.
And around 200 people from the surrounding area signed a petition, saying the development was out of keeping with the area, would add to congestion on Seaton Lane and Brenda Road, and lead to a loss of privacy.
The public inquiry is expected to be held locally but no date or location has been decided yet.