Hartlepool councillors refuse plans for refugee home in town

Tankerville Street in Hartlepool, where plans to create a home for refugees have been refused.
Tankerville Street in Hartlepool, where plans to create a home for refugees have been refused.

Plans to create a home for refugees seeking asylum in Hartlepool have been rejected by councillors.

A developer sought permission to change a former hostel, now a derelict house, in Tankerville Street, into a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO).

The applicant said they intended to use it to provide temporary accommodation to up to 20 refugees seeking asylum, particularly single mothers with children.

Councillors on Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning unanimously refused permission for a change of use on the grounds of fear of crime.

They stressed they did not turn it down because the intended occupiers were refugees, but because the house is in a high crime area.

No on-site warden or supervision was proposed and councillors said they were concerned no reassurances could be given on any future occupiers.

In the last two years there had been 128 incidents of anti-social behaviour and 103 crimes recorded in the ward by Cleveland Police.

The application had been recommended for approval by council officers.

Jim Fergusson said: “It is considered the proposal will bring an otherwise empty building into use and feel overall it will have a positive impact on the character of the area which has been blighted for many years by this disused building.”

Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher said: “I have serious concerns that we have no control and before you know it the service group going to be in there are going to be outnumbered by a different clientele.”

He added: “If you put 20 people into one property it’s a recipe for disaster especially when there are no staff monitoring that.”

Coun Marjorie James questioned putting female refugees in an area where there were sex offences recorded.

Coun Ray Martin-Wells said he planned to support the ‘good cause’ but changed his mind. He said: “The residents around there get on with each other and I’m sure if they thought this would work they would be supporting it just to get rid of the eyesore.”