A ROW has broken out between a store developer and council officers just weeks before the premises are due to open.
Hartlepool Borough Council officers are demanding that a wall is erected between the new Sainsbury’s Local store on the site of the former Station Hotel, in Seaton Carew, and Station Lane.
A paper is being taken to councillors on the planning committee this Friday recommending that the 3ft-tall structure is put in place to match neighbouring properties, stop people taking shortcuts and discourage people from crossing the road close to the bridge.
But the developer of the site, Jon Whitfield, is opposing the council’s idea, saying it will create a hazard by blocking drivers’ views of traffic.
Council officers refute that there is a safety concern.
The store is due to welcome its first customers in two weeks time on September 23. But Mr Whitfield said the new issue could delay the opening.
He added: “We have worked very closely with both the council and local community in getting this important scheme just right. To address road and pedestrian safety matters, we have already erected special visibility railings, a sign and a speed warning system.
“We take customer safety very seriously and this issue came through loud and strong at our public consultation events. We have very grave concerns if the council is now asking us to erect a metre-high wall across the frontage of the site.
“If a wall was to be built, it would obscure our carefully planned visibility lines and potentially block the view of traffic coming down Station Lane past the site making for a potentially dangerous traffic situation.”
He also claimed that none of the approved plans showed a boundary wall and landscaping was fully approved without one.
A council spokesman said: “We strongly refute any suggestion that the wall with railings which we have asked the developer to install may jeopardise road safety. It will not affect the required visibility on to and from Station Lane.
“One of the conditions of the planning approval was that detailed arrangements should subsequently be drawn up to the satisfaction of the council’s planning officers to ensure that the boundary of the site is suitably enclosed.
“We therefore requested that the developer installs a low wall with railings on top of it at the front of the store.
“When the Station Hotel was there, part of the site did have a low wall, and a wall and railing combination similar to the one we have asked for has worked very well at another store site in Hartlepool, namely Lidl in Jesmond Gardens.
“We are continuing to work with Mr Whitfield to reach a solution.”