New major planning blueprint for Hartlepool to cost a further £250k

Hartlepool Civic Centre
Hartlepool Civic Centre

A MAJOR planning blueprint for Hartlepool will cost a further £250,000 it has been confirmed.

But suggestions Hartlepool Borough Council’s Local Plan could take up to three years to be complete have been rubbished, with officers confirming the new document will go before a planning inspector next summer.

Keith Fisher

Keith Fisher

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said weight can then be given to the document - a planning blueprint for the next 15 years - from that date.

Mr Wilson was speaking to the council’s regeneration services committee, which had met to discuss the planned timetable for the new plan after the last one - which took five years and cost £1.5m - was axed in October.

At the time council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said the new Local Plan would be ready within six months.

Independent councillor Keith Fisher applauded the “bottle” shown to throw the last one out if it was not right for the town but said it is important it is right next time.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “In relation to the six-months, I am not going to breach the officer/member protocol but I was quite confident based on the best advice at the time.”

Coun Fisher added: “The leader was told it would be six months, it will take a lot longer than that. That should not go un-noted. He was given duff information.”

Coun Akers-Belcher argued the previous plan did not have public or political support and said the current administration had “inherited” something that wasn’t ideal.

The council leader, who said the new plan would cost around £250,000, said it also allowed the council time to look again at housing provision and the need and demand for a traveller site.

“To me that is good value for money and we have that covered in the budget already,” added Coun Akers-Belcher.

Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher said the priority should be to “focus positive energy” on the new plans.

Committee members agreed the timetable, which includes an issues and options stage to seek the views of the community and stakeholders, and the publication and submission stage takes place next June.

Work has already started on the new Local Plan and the proposals will go through the various stages at the regeneration services committee before full council for approval.