Plans to turn former Hartlepool coastguard station into house rejected over heritage fears

Headland Lighthouse
Headland Lighthouse

PLANS to convert a former coastguard station next to one of Hartlepool’s most historic sites have been thrown out by councillors over fears it would damage the area’s heritage.

Developers tried to get permission for a change of use for the empty building next to the Heugh Lighthouse.

It would have involved turning the former coastguard’s office into a house by adding a first floor brick extension and metal viewing gallery.

But councillors on Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee yesterday refused the application, voting nine to one against it.

The building is within the Headland Conservation Area and is very close to the Heugh Gun Battery, which defended the town during the Bombardment of Hartlepool.

Putting Hartlepool First councillor Geoff Lilley said: “I don’t think it will fit in. I think this will have a significant detrimental effect to the area as a whole and will be something we live to regret if it’s passed.”

Labour councillor Marjorie James said: “I think it is a step too far and will be absolutely detrimental to the Heugh Gun Battery.”

Coun James added: “To try to do something like this in the centenary of the First World War and bombardment is atrocious.”

The only member of the committee in favour of the plan was Councillor Jim Ainslie of the Headland, who is the council’s appointed heritage champion.

Coun Ainslie used the meeting to deny internet claims he was a friend of the applicant Mark Beard.

He said he had met Mr Beard on June 24 at a Headland Neighbourhood Plan working group meeting and again on the same day at a Headland Parish Council meeting.

Coun Ainslie said of the application: “It has been a moribund area and this will bring it back into life.

“English Heritage don’t think it will cause any harm to the setting.

“In my opinion this is going to enhance the area.”

David Johnson on behalf of the applicants SJR Architectural, in Hartlepool, had told the committee: “The proposal is of a contemporary nature which may not be to everyone’s taste.”

But he added most of the 19 letters of objection did not come from nearby residents to the site.