Councillors reject residents’ plans for Park area of Hartlepool

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells
Councillor Ray Martin-Wells

COUNCILLORS have rejected a resident-led planning blueprint for an area of Hartlepool.

A neighbourhood plan, which seeks to give communities more of a say in any developments in their area, has been drawn up for the Park area.

It has been developed through a newly-formed group called the Park Neighbourhood Forum after gaining support from residents through the Park Residents Association.

Neighbourhood plans are the brainchild of the coalition government and are being promoted nationwide as part of the Localism Act.

Four are currently being developed in Hartlepool, including on the Headland, Wynyard and rural areas.

But Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee voted against the designation of the current Park Neighbourhood Plan.

It was because some councillors felt not enough people had been involved in shaping the plan, which would cover the same area as the former Park ward boundary.

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells said: “I don’t believe enough people have been consulted.

“When you are talking about an area with combined residents of 20,000 and you have feedback from a very small number of individuals, I don’t believe it would stand up under scrutiny when it went to the next stage.”

But Coun Geoff Lilley said: “I fully support it. I think it’s great that communties are taking on the opportunity that’s being given to them.

“I hope we see other neighbourhoods get together and make a difference to the sort of future developments and retention of buildings in their area.

“The current ward boundaries don’t always reflect what residents think of as their area.”

Planning committee chairman, Councillor Rob Cook, had the casting vote after members were tied on whether to support the proposed plan.

Voting against it Coun Cook said: “I honestly don’t think the response is a true reflection of the amount of people that live within the area.”

Ted Jackson, the nominal chairman of the Park Neighbourhood Forum, said: “We have taken roughly 12 months to get to this stage so I am very disappointed.

“You can’t get people interested in these activities until you put something on the table. Very few people understand the implications until you start and it gathers pace.”