A public examination of Hartlepool Borough Council’s major planning blueprint for the next 15 years has started.
David Spencer, a chartered town planner, has been appointed by the Government to determine whether the council’s 2016 Local Plan is sound.
If so, the plan will be adopted and be used to shape all kinds of development such as housing, employment growth, transport and infrastructure, and leisure and retail.
The examination is taking place at Hartlepool College of Further Education and is due to take three weeks.
Mr Spencer and Hartlepool Borough Council read out opening statements at the start of the hearing.
Mr Spencer said: “My role in conducting the examination is to determine whether the submitted plan satisfies relevant legal and procedural requirements, whether the council has complied with the duty to co-operate and whether the plan is sound. To be sound the plan must be positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy.”
He added: “Having read the representations and the material that the council has submitted I have identified a number of matters and issues to be investigated.”
The Local Plan submitted by the council in March of this year includes a number of modifications made after consultations.
Mr Spencer said: “It may well transpire that further modifications are necessary or are identified as part of the discussions over the next three weeks.”
Matthew King, planning policy team leader at Hartlepool council, explained how the plan has been developed since early 2014 in line with national policies and, if adopted, will replace the 2006 Local Plan.
More than 2,000 representations were made when the plan went out to consultation in December last year.
Mr King said: “It has been highly encouraging to see the level of interest in the local plan and to hear a wide range of views on how people and organisations believe Hartlepool should grow over the next 15 years.
“The council believes it has produced a plan which, whilst ambitious and growth-orientated, is also realistic and deliverable and will help to achieve the vision set out within the plan that Hartlepool by 2031 will be a more sustainable community”.
He added: “It is considered that once adopted the plan will provide certainty to residents of Hartlepool, developers and organisations, who operate inside and outside the borough, as to how planning decisions will be made.”
Today the examination will look at housing needs.