Decision due on Hartlepool gypsy site

Damien Wilson, assistant director of regeneration
Damien Wilson, assistant director of regeneration

CONTROVERSIAL plans to designate an area for a permanent gypsy and traveller site will be finalised this week when councillors meet to discuss the 16 shortlisted options.

Hundreds of concerned residents responded to the Hartlepool Borough Council public consultation and now councillors are asked to identify a preferred site.

But the finance and policy committee is expected to recommend the chosen site will only be developed once the demand presents itself.

The consultation followed the formal examination of the council’s proposed new 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.

All sites have been assessed and delivery risk assessments carried out.

Land at West View Road, Catcote/Macaulay Road, Old Cemetery Road and Masefield Road/Gulliver Road was classed as lowest risk.

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

But councillors are recommended to identify a preferred site and to agree not to develop in the timescale set out by the HCA, but wait until the demand is there.

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.

In a report, Damien Wilson, assistant director of regeneration, said: “The site selection process is robust and justified, a decision on the council’s preferred site and funding is required to enable the council to meet the deadline of the August 18 for the submission of further information to the planning inspector.”

The committee meets on Thursday, August 8, at 2pm at the Civic Centre.