Controversial plans to create three new paths to access a Hartlepool war memorial have been given the green light by planning bosses.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee unanimously approved proposals for changes to the Headland war memorial in Redheugh Gardens.
It will involve three new two-metre wide concrete paths leading to the war memorial to aid access to the site for disabled people.
Objections had been received from residents raising concerns the development is unnecessary and the money could be better spent.
A letter from Headland Parish Council stated there were concerns the paths could be used by children on bikes ‘disrespecting the memorial’ and change the look of the site.
However council armed forces champion Coun Allan Barclay backed the plans and said it was something that had been needed for some time.
Speaking at the planning meeting, he said: “It’s something I have been banging on about since March last year.
“Elderly and disabled people need help getting access to the memorial, sometimes it’s impossible.
“It is for three paths as when we put in one temporary path someone fell over as everyone was rushing to get access.
“The Armed Forces Liaison group said it all really, we are getting more elderly and more people in wheelchairs wanting to access the memorial, that was shown with this 100 years since the armistice.
“Everybody should be remembering what happened, including the disabled, and we should have disabled access everywhere.”
In total there was five letters of support and five letters objection to the move, planning officers at the meeting said.
Coun Marjorie James said she was ‘a bit disappointed’ the symmetry of the site would be damaged by including three paths, but still backed the plans.
The plans were submitted by the council, who said access ‘was the primary motivator’ for the paths to enable them to be more inclusive to people with disability issues.
Coun Barclay also said he was disappointed to see the Headland Parish Council had objected to the plans.
A letter from Headland Parish Council said: “The parish council supports the need to provide access for disabled people.
“However we would like other options formally considered which would provide this access without changing the look of the memorial and gardens which are listed.
“The local residents were concerned children disrespecting the memorial during the year by riding bikes on the path.”
It comes after earlier this year councillors agreed to £77,000 of funding for works to the Headland including a new access to the war memorial in Redheugh Gardens after a row broke out over the proposals.
Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporter
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service