Residents are celebrating the success of a campaign to stop a former bakery being turned into flats that could have been used by recovering drug addicts.
People from the Foggy Furze area of Hartlepool have battled against the plan to turn the former Anderson’s Bakery, in Windemere Road, Hartlepool, into four apartments for residents including former drug users.
They set up a campaign along with ward councillors, and also a petition which gained 1,600 signatures, against the proposal which was made by Developing Initiatives for Support in the Commuinity (DISC).
And now their wish has been granted after Hartlepool Borough Council’s Finance and Policy Committee unanimously agreed to buy the building and turn it into two houses, potentially with disabled access.
Today, Deputy Mayor Councillor Kevin Cranney, speaking on behalf of the homeowners and tenants in the area, said: “Christopher Akers-Belcher made a promise to residents that if Hartlepool Borough Council could buy the property then it would.
“All three councillors from the area thought this was an inappropriate development for the area.
“There’s a lot of school children that pass through the area and there were concerns about crime and fear of crime.
“Even the police said this kind of development should have full-time staff there.”
He added: “It would have brought the area down. The decision to convert it back to two houses is the most appropriate.
“I’ve had lots of calls of thanks from people but I’m just a spokesperson for them, without them the outcome could have been very different.
“It’s a relief for a lot of residents because there was a lot of people stirred up by this. It’s people power at the end of the day.”
Pauline Hope, who has lived near the old bakery with her husband Norman Hope for more than 30 years, said: “We are very happy about the decision; it is the best result that we could have hoped for.
“Nobody wanted the hassle around here.”
The mum and grandmother added: “I appreciate that these people need somewhere to go but this location was totally wrong for it and that’s what it boiled down to.”
The Council’s Planning Committee turned down the DISC application in February this year but could have appealed against the decision. Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, chairman of the Finance and Policy Committee and Leader of the Council, said: “The DISC proposal did raise major concerns, particularly in the Foggy Furze community, and I’m delighted that we have identified an alternative use for the building.
“DISC has indicated to us that they are prepared to sell the building to the council and once the sale is complete we’ll convert it into two family homes as part of our ongoing programme to bring empty homes in the town back into use.
“I fully appreciate that recent months have been a very difficult time for residents living in the area and the council’s determination in finding a solution that resonates with local people’s wishes demonstrates that we are a listening council.”