Covenant cash put to community use

PROTEST: Pub regulars who opposed the closure
PROTEST: Pub regulars who opposed the closure

PLANS for half of the cash received from releasing a covenant on the site of a former pub to go back into the community have been agreed.

The Pink Domino, in Hartlepool’s Catcote Road, is set to be knocked down and replaced with a new Farmfoods store creating 15 new jobs after plans were passed.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee agreed plans despite objections from devastated residents angry over the loss of their local.

Objectors said it should remain as a pub because there was a covenant dating back to when the council owned the land but planners said that was a civil matter and officers say they cannot reasonably withhold its release.

The fee for releasing the covenant has not yet been revealed for confidentiality reasons. But 50 per cent will go to the local community and residents and local councillors will be involved in deciding what the money is spent on.

Independent councillor Paul Thompson, portfolio holder for finance and corporate services, agreed plans at a council meeting.

Graham Frankland, assistant director for resources, said: “Portfolio holder will be aware of the sale and the effects on residents which have been documented in a variety of objections.

“The sale is, of course, largely outside of the control of the council.

“Planning permission for a change of use to retail premises has however been granted by the council and this has meant the need to agree the release of a covenant the council had on the property.

“Such release cannot be unreasonably withheld and this is the case in this instance.”

Mr Frankland added: “Approaches have been received from ward members to use part of this fee for the benefit of the local residents in recognition of the loss to the community and it is suggested that 50 per cent of the fee be used for improvements to the locality.”

The rest of the cash will go into the council’s capital receipts pot.

Coun Thompson was keen to stress that the council was not responsible for shutting the pub.

He added: “It was a private business and it would have been kept open if it was profitable.

“Let’s use 50 per cent of the money for the residents in that area and it should mean the ward members can do something meaningful.”

Ahead of last year’s planning meeting, officers had received a total of 180 objections in the form of letters and a petition over concerns about its location, traffic problems, road safety and the loss of the pub to the local community.

Planning officers said the positives of the development outweighed the loss of the building while Farmfoods said the pub is no longer viable.

An Enterprise Inns spokesman said the decision to see the Pink Domino had been taken after “careful consideration”.

The proposed opening hours for the new Farmfoods store are 7am-10pm Monday to Friday, 7am-8pm on Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday.