Hartlepool affordable housing scheme wins approval despite crime concerns

Controversial plans for an affordable housing scheme have been given the green light at the second attempt despite objections from some neighbours.

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 6:03 am
Updated Friday, 25th October 2019, 12:02 pm

A total of 31 two and three-bedroom properties are set to be built on two plots of land off Lealholm Road on behalf of local housing provider Thirteen.

In May, the scheme was rejected by the Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee on the grounds that it would lead to crime and fear of crime like the kind seen before Keith Road was demolished in 2003.

But a revised plan was approved by the committee on Wednesday, October 23, with councillors feeling development of the site would improve the area and help prevent cases of crime and antisocial behaviour which spiked over the summer.

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Affordable housing plans on Lealholm Road, Hartlepool
Affordable housing plans on Lealholm Road, Hartlepool

Residents maintained building on the site would create a “playground” for criminals and trouble makers and that a number of incidents have happened since the removal of a wall between the site and Lealholm Road six months ago.

Thirteen pledged to manage the scheme responsibly and said it was committed to improving the area off Seaton Lane.

Lealholm Road resident Michelle Oliver claimed nearby Newholm Court had experienced 16 offences in July and four house break-ins and two cars attacked in Lealholm Road.

She told the committee: “Our street is now terrified we are going to go back to how we were. It’s just going to be a new playground for them. Until the antisocial problems have been resolved new houses shouldn’t be allowed to go up.”

The edge of part of the site off Lealholm Road where Thirteen is due to build new affordable homes.

A representative for Thirteen stressed both development plots would be separate and it would not be possible to cut through the site from Jutland Road to Stockton Road.

The spokesperson said: “We know Seaton Lane can be a challenging area at times and that’s why we want to invest further in it.

“Thirteen have already huge made progress in terms of tackling local issues. This area is nothing like it was historically.”

She added they had strong management arrangements in place including neighbourhood co-ordinators and tenancy enforcement and support specialist teams. Thirteen’s lettings plan gives preference to potential tenants who are in work.

The representative added: “Through careful vetting and management of tenants, Thirteen is determined that the historical problems that blighted the area will not be allowed to return.”

Ward councillor Sue Little said Newholm Court residents wanted the development to go ahead and feel it will reduce antisocial behaviour, including fires, on the open land.

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher acknowledged the residents’ fears but said: “I feel the answer is to develop this area to improve it and create a vibrant and cohesive neighbourhood.”

Coun Jim Lindridge said he felt for the residents but believed the crime was a police matter.

But Coun Marjorie James said: “Whilst there is not a physical barrier or wall on this development to protect those properties that are currently in place then I cannot support this application.”

Councillors voted by a majority in favour of the application.