Council picks land for controversial gypsy site in Hartlepool

Hart Village
Hart Village

COUNCILLORS have chosen two sites near Hart Village that could house a permanent gypsy and traveller site in future - on the outskirts of Hartlepool around a mile away from the plush Bishop Cuthbert estate.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s finance and policy committee started with a shortlist of 16 but whittled it down to two preferred sites, Hart Smallholdings West and Hart Smallholdings East.

Hart Smallholdings West is the first choice as it would not need a new road building.

The decision was taken this afternoon at the Civic Centre by the committee, who also confirmed the chosen sites will only be developed once the demand presents itself.

The public consultation followed the formal examination of the council’s proposed Local Plan by a Government planning inspector, which was suspended after he called on officers to carry out further work to find an appropriate site.

The 13 original sites were land at West View Road, Throston Grange Lane, two areas in Burbank Street, Catcote Road/Macaulay Road, Wiltshire Way, Old Cemetery Road, Lennox Walk/Owton Manor Lane, Masefield Road/Gulliver Road, Hart smallholdings east and west, near Hart village, and Summerhill, off Catcote Road.

Three more sites were then added including Briarfields, land at Clarence Road and land at Huckelhoven Way/Reed Street.

Ahead of the meeting, all the shortlisted sites, which met the Government criteria, had been assessed and delivery risk assessments carried out.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) said funding is available now for sites that can be identified and completed by March 2015.

But councillors agreed not to develop in the timescale set out by the HCA, but wait until the demand is there and apply for funding as necessary.

There is uncertainty about what level of funding may be available from the HCA, if any, post March 2015 and the liability would then fall on the council.

Today’s decision had to be made before August 18, the deadline for the submission of further information to the planning inspector.