Plans for 31 new affordable homes in Hartlepool refused over crime concerns

Plans for a 31 home affordable housing development have been rejected by councillors over fears of crime and anti-social behaviour raised by residents.

Friday, 10th May 2019, 11:08 am

Hartlepool Borough Council planning committee rejected proposals for 31 two and three bedroomed homes to be built over two separate plots of land off Lealholm Road in Hartlepool.

Ahead of the meeting planning officers had recommended the plans for the affordable housing, submitted by applicant Engie Ltd in association with housing provider Thirteen, were given the go-ahead.

A decision was due to be made at the planning committee meeting last month but councillors moved to defer making a decision to allow a site visit.

However, after hearing from resident Michelle Oliver, councillors on the committee rejected the plans over fears crime could return to the area.

Mrs Oliver, who lives near the proposed site, voiced concerns over anti-social behaviour which have plagued the area, especially under its former name of Keith Road.

She said: “20 years ago we went through absolute horror, we had our houses smashed in, we had drug dealers, we had needles on the floor, we were frightened to death of going out of our houses.

“We don’t want to go back through that again, we have gone through enough. You can’t justify putting someone through a life of living like that.

“The best thing to do would be to just flatten the land, put grass down and put trees or plant life in there, make it look nice and available for people to see.

“You don’t want to have an area that was so successful for 20 years become back to how it was, because who is going to have to deal with it all? It’s the residents.

“Our kids don’t want to grow up in that.”

The Hartlepool Mail previously reported in the year 2000, 47 houses in the former Keith Road were knocked down after problems with drugs, burglary, intimidation and properties falling into disrepair.

Councillors on the committee backed the concerns of Mrs Oliver and rejected the plans.

Coun Marjorie James said: “I remember coming on to the council and Keith Road being removed was one of the first decisions we made.

“A cursory glance would say this would probably be okay, but history tells us it probably won’t be.”

Coun Mike Young said: “One of the material conditions we have in front of us is fear of crime, I wouldn’t say this lady is in fear of crime, I would say she is terrified.”

A Thirteen Housing Group officer spoke in favour of the plans at the meeting and said there would be a ‘plethora’ of support available to residents if the plans went ahead, and all residents would be vetted.

A spokeswoman said: “The development of the 31 properties would represent a significant investment in Hartlepool by Thirteen.

“It is our priority to ensure the development runs successfully.

“We have a close working relationship with police, local authority and other agencies to try and ensure the area is maintained.

“The proposed development would bring back a currently vacant area of the town back into use and contribute to the long term sustainability of the Seaton Lane area and assist the regeneration of the area.”

The homes would have been built over two parcels of land to the south east and south west of Newholm Court, directly east and west of Lealholm Road, which is split into two cul-de-sacs, with no through road connecting them.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service