Developers appeal over refused plans for asylum seekers hostel in Hartlepool

The building in Tankerville Street that a developer wants to convert into a hostel. Picture by FRANK REID
The building in Tankerville Street that a developer wants to convert into a hostel. Picture by FRANK REID

A house for up to 20 refugees could still be created despite being previously turned down by Hartlepool Borough Council.

Developers want to turn a former hostel in Tankerville Street into a home of multiple occupancy as part of a government contract to temporarily house asylum seekers.

Planning permission for a change of use and alterations inside was refused by Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee in September.

Councillors did not object to the prospect of it housing refugees, but felt the area was not suitable due to its high crime rate, in particular sexual offences.

They were also unhappy that they had no control that the house would always be used mainly for women and children.

Now the developer, Stockton-based Jomast, has launched an appeal which, will be decided by a government-appointed inspector.

Stuart Monk, a director of Jomast, told the Mail: “The council officers recommended the scheme for approval and we believe there are no grounds to refuse it which is why we are appealing it.

“It is a building that has been unoccupied for the last 15 years. Its former use was a homeless persons hostel.

“The [new] use is entirely consistent with the former use.”

In refusing permission, planning councillors cited a lack of parking and fear of crime.

The meeting heard Victoria Ward, which includes Tankerville Street, is one of the top five wards with the highest rates of crime and anti-social behaviour in the town.

Minutes from the meeting when it was refused state: “Members were concerned at the inability to monitor future occupiers.”

They add: “They refused the application unanimously on the basis of insufficient parking and fear of crime.

“They also highlighted the high rate of sex crimes in the area and felt it was not a suitable premises for the intended use.”

Jomast Accommodation Limited has a contract with G4s/the Home Office to provide temporary accommodation to asylum seekers who arrive in the country.

In appeal documentation Jomast says: “There is no suggestion that the street scene would not be visually enhanced by the development.

“On the contrary the proposal would remove the blight of a large building standing empty with the associated problems this may involve, including potential ant-social activity, and provide much needed secure accommodation for vulnerable people.”

The appeal will be decided by written representations.

Jomast has also submitted a claim for its costs to the council.