Fears over plans to sell park lodge

The Ward Jackson Park lodge
The Ward Jackson Park lodge

MEMBERS of a civic society have expressed “grave concerns” over council plans to sell a historic lodge.

Hartlepool Borough Council is aiming to sell the former park keeper’s lodge, which stands at the corner of Ward Jackson Park, in Elwick Road, to raise much-needed cash.

The two-storey Grade II listed property, which dates back to 1883 and lies in the Park Conservation Area, has not been occupied for a number of years.

But members of the Hartlepool Civic Society say they don’t want a section of the park to be sold and describe the plans as “dubious” and “flawed”.

The society fears the character of the lodge could be altered and claim no consideration has been given to the historic, cultural and economic importance of Ward Jackson Park as a whole.

Valerie Lister, honorary secretary of the society, said: “The society is extremely concerned at the sale of a corner of the park and the pitfalls of separating the ownership of the lodge and associated garden and trees from the park, of which it is such an important feature.

“As part of the sale a new entrance is planned from the busy Elwick Road, just off the particularly dangerous corner where traffic is unsighted both left and right for some distance.

“Such a new entrance would make the situation even worse.”

A statement added: “We would strongly urge the council to withdraw this property from the for sale list. The negative implications of breaking up the park make the proposed sale a huge mistake outweighing any very limited monetary benefit.

“Ward Jackson Park is an extremely well-used public facility and inserting a private home into its boundary is a dubious, flawed and dangerous concept.”

A council spokesman said: “We acknowledge the concerns raised by Hartlepool Civic Society, but it is important to stress that any potential sale of the lodge in the future would be closely regulated.

“As a listed building, it would have the protection of heritage and conservation requirements, as well as the normal planning and highway regulations.

“The council’s finance and corporate services portfolio holder will consider the potential sale of the lodge at a meeting on December 12, and the bids submitted, the objections received and the proposed alternatives will all be taken into account.

“The council will consider all options for the building and have controls in place to ensure that it retains its appearance and heritage value.”

Over the next four years, the council is looking to slash between £17m and £20m from its £90m revenue budget to balance the books due to cuts in public sector funding.