Planning bosses have objected to two metal doors installed for ‘safety purposes’ after they were branded ‘out of keeping with a historic area’.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee rejected retrospective applications for metal doors installed at 5 Tower Street and 68 Church Street, both in the Church Street Conservation Area.
The plans were recommended for refusal ahead of the meeting, with a report stating they would have a ‘detrimental impact’ on the area.
In September a retrospective application for a replacement door from Evolution Training in Scarborough Street, which is based in the conservation area, was also rejected.
It came after the previous door was smashed by a car and the replacement was branded ‘out of character’ with the area by planning bosses.
The latest applications were submitted by Paul Edwards from letting agent Asset Property Management who stated metal doors were installed for security purposes after anti-social behaviour on an evening.
He said: “We save Hartlepool Council thousands of pounds a year on short stay accommodation.
“Despite all our efforts the apartments at Tower Chambers have been subject to regular anti-social behaviour, often from non-residents.
“The wooden doors that have been replaced have been repaired constantly until they were unsafe and non-repairable.
“History tells us wooden doors to a communal building in that area do not last.
“The metal doors installed are top of the range metal composite doors.
“There has not been a single complaint from a member of the public about the doors. Not a single complaint from a business, leaseholder or tenant.
“I have no desire to upset or antagonize the council in anyway and have always respected the history of the buildings we manage but we feel the safety of the residents is our main concern.
“At the end of the day I’ve got a duty of care to the residents of that building.
“Going forward I do not see how a wooden door would safeguard the residents in that building.
“I do think there’s an issue with anti-social behaviour from people in that area quite often, especially late at night.
“It’s very scary sometimes on a night, I felt unsafe.”
The council could now impose an enforcement notice and order the firm to remove the new door and replace it.
The local firm, based in Church Street, has been established for over eight years and are an independent local company specialising in residential lettings and property management.
The plans had previously gone before the planning committee in early October but a decision was deferred and a site visit ordered.
Hartlepool Civic Society submitted its objections to the plans ahead of the meeting.
A spokesman said: “The metal doors which have already been installed are totally out of keeping with a historic area.
“Surely hardwood doors would offer a sufficient degree of security without there being metal.”
The Tower Street property had a partially glazed timber door approved in 2005, which was altered between between June 2015 and May 2016 and is now a solid metal door.
As recently as April 2017 the door at 68 Church Street was timber panelled but has since been replaced with a grey metal door.
A council report from senior planning officer Laura Chambers backed by the committee said there are other options the applicant could take to make the site more secure and supported the refusal.
It said: “It is not considered the door installed is the only way in which this could have been achieved and further that these works cause less than substantial harm to the significance of the conservation area by virtue of the design, detailing and use of materials.
“Furthermore, insufficient information has been provided to demonstrate that this harm is outweighed by any public benefits.”
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service