Pillbox blunder firm’s pledge

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A BUILDING firm that demolished a pillbox dating back to the Second World War has agreed a series of measures as a way of an apology.

Councillors and historians were angry after Bellway Homes knocked down the concrete pillbox on the Middle Warren site, in Hartlepool, earlier this month.

Hartlepool Borough Council said the structure, one of two on the site, was not listed but should not have been demolished.

The firm apologised for the error and offered to carry out some archaeological work around the remaining pillbox and to commission a leaflet about the Second World War developments around the site.

The council’s planning committee recently met behind closed doors to discuss a report about a range of heritage-related measures.

It is also understood that councillors have also called for compensation to be paid and for that money to be put towards the upkeep of town war memorials.

But council officials say it would be “inappropriate” to comment any further at the moment.

The exact heritage-related measures are yet to be released but it is believed Bellway Homes will:

● Fund archaeological work to examine and record the immediate area around the pillbox.

● Commission a leaflet/booklet about the Second World War monuments in the Middle Warren area.

● Provide a marker on the site to record the former pillbox site.

A council spokesman said: “The council’s planning committee has made it very clear to Bellway Homes how extremely annoyed it is about the demolition of the pillbox.

“Clearly nothing will now bring the pillbox back but by way of recompense, the council and Bellway Homes have agreed a range of heritage-related measures which Bellway Homes will carry out.

“The exact details of those activities are still the subject of final discussions between the council and Bellway Homes and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further upon them at the present time.”

A spokesman for Bellway Homes has previously said it was an “oversight” and apologised for the error.

At the time the spokesman added: “In mitigation Bellway will undertake some archaeological work around the pillbox to identify any archaeological finds and will also be commissioning a special leaflet about the Second World War developments around the Middle Warren area that we will make available to local libraries in due course.”

The second pillbox remains on the site and Bellway has given assurances it will be fully protected.

Under planning permission granted in 1997 any archaeological remains on the site must be properly protected.

The pillbox, one of 50 similar structures across Hartlepool, was part of General Sir Edmund Ironside’s stop lines, the last line of defence in the war to any land attacks from the south or west of the town.

They housed armed Home Guard soldiers and were built as defences in the event of German attacks or bombing raids.