Hartlepool housing estate plans rejected after row over Elwick bypass payment
Plans for 14 new homes near Summerhill Visitor Centre in Hartlepool have been refused by borough councillors.
Proposals were discussed by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Planning Committee for three and four-bedroom homes at Southbrooke Farm, off Summerhill Lane.
Twice previously in recent months the proposals were scheduled to go before councillors, before being withdrawn in April, and again in June, following the submission of amended plans and consultation with the committee chair.
The amended scheme reduced the number of house types in the development, along with other changes, but the number of properties remained the same.
Following further consultation, eight letters of support were also received from residents, claiming that the “good quality homes” proposed would have a “positive effect” on the area.
However, a report prepared by council planners recommended the proposals for refusal, deeming the principle of development “unacceptable.”
The plans were previously approved by councillors in 2017, subject to a section 106 legal agreement securing planning contributions, which the applicant had agreed to pay at the time.
Since then, the applicant contacted council officers and said the costs totalling some £235,000 could not be met in full – which included contributions towards highways, education and sporting facilities in Hartlepool.
At a meeting to decide the application on Wednesday, August 25, a representative for the applicant said an alternative figure had been proposed.
This included a total of £60,000 in section 106 contributions to offset the impact of the housing while providing “some positive planning gains for the community.”
The applicant’s agent also criticised the £156,000 highways contribution sought from the council towards the cost of the Elwick bypass and A19 grade-separated junction, describing it as “excessive and unwarranted”.
Following discussion, councillors on the committee voted in line with the recommendations of planning officers to refuse the application.
Several councillors, including councillor Jennifer Elliott, stressed the importance of section 106 funds for Hartlepool residents.
Cllr Elliott explained: “Section 106 negotiations, they give us the opportunity to contribute positively to the town and to the wider borough alongside positive development within the town.
“These negotiations are all things that make life good and make life fun within the borough, you have your play provision and tennis courts as well as the contributions to our education provision, supporting a vibrant future and our highways in terms of the new roads that are going to be built.
“The applicant has spoken about the social responsibility on previous projects in these negotiations.
“Now it’s my social responsibility and it’s our social responsibility as this committee to make sure that we’re getting the best for our town and for our borough for future generations.
“For me, in good conscience, I cannot support a development that doesn’t come with the benefits of these negotiations.”
Several suggested reasons for refusal were outlined by planners in a committee report, including the applicant’s failure to provide ecological mitigation measures and the absence of financial contributions towards highways.
Other reasons included the proposals causing harm to the Park Conservation Area and the “failure of the applicant to secure the requisite financial contributions towards play equipment, built sports, green infrastructure and education.”