Bosses at a training service have been left stunned after councillors on the town’s planning committee objected to a new door installed at their premises after the previous one was smashed by a car.
The old door at Evolution Training, based in Scarborough Street in Hartlepool, was smashed by a car in February this year.
The consultancy service, which specialises in health, safety and training needs, then installed a replacement door, before being told by council bosses a planning application must be submitted.
But Hartlepool Borough Council planning committee rejected a retrospective application at its meeting last Wednesday, stating the door was ‘out of keeping’ with the Church Street Conservation Area.
The council could now impose an enforcement notice and order the firm to remove the new door and replace it.
Joan Chapman, general manager at Evolution, said after the meeting she was surprised to find out it had been rejected.
She said: “The old door was completely smashed, there was a mess all inside the office.
“We replaced it as quickly as we could, we didn’t think anything of it until we got a letter from the council saying we had to apply for planning permission.
“I understand it needs to fit in with the Church Street Conservation Area, but I don’t see the problem with it.
“If you look along the street there are others just like it.
“We can’t exactly put the original back on, it was destroyed.
“We replaced it with this door, which is more substantial, safer, more secure for staff.
“For my money I think it looks nicer.
“It is all just surprising it has been rejected, I don’t think we’ve done anything against the character of the area.
“I don’t know where we go from here.”
Council planning bosses branded the replacement door ‘crude and out of keeping’ with the area.
The former timber door to the property had been replaced with a composite dark blue door with a white uPVC frame.
The window above the door has been replaced with white uPVC cladding and timber boarding placed to the side of the frame, while decorative details have been removed.
The planning committee unanimously rejected the proposals, with councillors and officers speaking out at the meeting stating they were out of keeping with the conservation area.
Council planning and development manager Jim Ferguson said: “We are trying to improve the area, a lot of money is being invested by the council.
“It is a pretty crude job they have done there.”
Chair of the planning committee Coun Rob Cook said: “We’ve got to take each planning application individually.
“It’s not in keeping with the area.
“It is nothing like the original, we are trying to improve the conservation area.”
The local authority could now issue an enforcement notice requiring the applicant to change the door.
Planning officers had recommended the proposals be rejected ahead of the meeting, stating it ‘detracts from the character and appearance of the Church Street Conservation Area’.
Hartlepool Civic Society had also previously objected to the plans, stating the replacement door should reflect the original, a wooden door with a window above.
Around £3.4 million has been spent on improving Church Street and Church Square, with funding coming from the Tees Valley Combined Authority, National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Hartlepool Borough Council.