Student flats plan attacked

the former nursing home site in Hutton Avenue
the former nursing home site in Hutton Avenue

CONCERNED residents say they are unhappy after controversial plans to transform a former nursing home into student accommodation were given the go-ahead.

The former Mount Oswald Nursing Home, in Hutton Avenue, is set to be turned into 27-bed student accommodation with the first crop of students moving in from September next year.

People living in the same street say they are unhappy but admit they are going to have to get on with it after a planning inspector ruled in favour of the plans.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee had unanimously rejected the plans but the developer won an appeal.

Paddy Horsely, 70, lives next door to the property, and she said people living in the street are unhappy the plans were approved.

The mum-of-two said: “We have a strong residents’ association and we were very disappointed with the outcome.

“We have real concerns about noise, disturbance, traffic and parking and we had the support of the councillors but not the inspector.

“We were hoping it may have been redeveloped into apartments but that is not to be, it is happening and we are going to have to get on with it.”

David Bentham, chair of the Hutton Avenue Residents’ Association, spoke against the plans at the meeting back in February and said there was a lot of concern from residents.

He said: “Obviously we were very disappointed with the inspector’s decision.

“We are not down on students and we welcome the opportunity for Hartlepool but we feel there could have been more foresight in terms of planning where the accommodation is.”

He added there were real concerns about late night noise and disturbance.

Mr Bentham said: “We will be working with the council and the police and if there are any violations then we will be contacting our local councillors.”

The two-and-a-half storey building has been closed for the past five years and when it re-opens it will house students from the Cleveland College of Art and Design, Hartlepool Sixth Form College and Hartlepool College of Further Education.

Speaking to the Mail last week, Chris McHale, of Surrey-based developers McHale Property, said: “You can never be absolutely sure about anything, but the evidence supporting the application was overwhelming.”

Councillors rejected the plans against officer recommendation after some residents said the development was “totally unsuitable” for a conversation area.

Committee members said the plan was a “threat” to the conservation area, that they had not been “convinced” by the plans and there were also concerns about parking and security issues as well as noise and general disturbance.

But the planning inspector disagreed and backed the developer’s plans.

The planning permission includes alterations to windows, doors and roof lights and there will be a permanent warden in the 28-bedroom property.

Mount Oswald Nursing Home was open for 17 years, but closed its doors in 2007.