Plans agreed to sell remaining piece of former Hartlepool school site to housing developer

The site of the former Henry Smiths School. Picture by FRANK REID
The site of the former Henry Smiths School. Picture by FRANK REID

PLANS to sell the remaining piece of a former school site to a developer have been agreed – paving the way for up to 90 houses to be built.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s finance and policy committee has taken the decision to accept a confidential offer for the former Henry Smith School site, in the town’s King Oswy Drive.

There is already 25 bungalows on the site, managed by Vela, and now councillors have agreed plans to sell the rest of the site.

The school was demolished in late 2005, and the council-owned 9.25 acre site had been vacant until work on the new bungalows got underway last summer.

Denise Ogden, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, presented the report.

Mrs Ogden said: “Prior to the disposal of part of the site to Vela in 2012 for the provision of elderly bungalows the whole development site was marketed for sale by informal tender subject to a development brief.

“Although a number of tenders were received these were disappointing and substantially below the estates and regeneration managers valuation.”

Outline planning permission was then obtained for the construction of up to 110 private-market houses on the remainder of the site at the same time as the full planning permission for the Vela development.

The rest of the site hasn’t been marketed since, but officers were due to go out to the market in April.

However, an offer has recently been made to the council which was then presented to yesterday’s meeting.

Mrs Ogden added: “Recently an offer has been received which is worthy of consideration, taking account of the substantial numbers of planning permissions that have already been granted and are in the process of consideration which will lead to substantial supply within the town.”

Members therefore had the choice of accepting the offer and secure the sale, re-market the site or delaying re-marketing the site.

Councillors were in favour of selling the land and the development will see up to 90 houses built on it, subject to the approval of some reserved matters.

Independent councillor Paul Thompson said: “I remember when we tried to sell this site a couple of years ago and the offers for the land were derisory.

“It is good that we have got a great deal on the table at the minute and I don’t have any problem with the terms.”

Labour councillor Rob Cook said: “It would be silly for us not to accept it, I fully support the recommendations.”

Fellow Labour councillor Marjorie James said she didn’t have a problem with the recommendations, but she said there was one option that the council hadn’t considered, the council building the houses themselves.

Conservative group leader Ray Wells added: “I don’t have a problem as long as the amount is not chipped away at.”

Putting Hartlepool First councillor Geoff Lilley said: “Under the circumstances this is an exceptionally good deal.”

The committee then agreed the plans.