Tees Valley mayor intervenes over employment land housing plans

The elected mayor for the Tees Valley has written to the chairman of Homes England urging him to scrap the body's plans for a 189-home scheme on a site currently allocated for employment use, warning that the proposals could risk 'hundreds of jobs'.

Hartlepool (pic: Mat Fascione via Geograph)
Hartlepool (pic: Mat Fascione via Geograph)

Homes England, the government’s housing and regeneration quango, intends to build the homes on part of its Oakesway Industrial Estate in Hartlepool. A planning application for the development was submitted to Hartlepool Borough Council in October last year.

According to a statement from the Tees Valley Combined Authority, the industrial estate is home to brake pad manufacturer TMD Friction, which employs more than 400 full-time staff and is Hartlepool’s third-biggest employer.

The park is also the base for firms involved in steel fabrication and polyethylene bag manufacturing and is part of the Tees Valley Enterprise Zone, the statement said.

The site is currently allocated as employment land in Hartlepool Borough Council’s emerging local plan, which was submitted for examination in March 2017.

However, Homes England believes that the site, large parts of which are vacant, could be redeveloped to include residential uses.

Now, Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen has written to Homes England chairman Sir Edward Lister asking him to withdraw the plans.

Houchen said: "As one of the single largest employers in Hartlepool, with huge prospects of expansion, TMD Friction is vastly important to the town and the wider Tees Valley economy.

"This industrial site has the potential for further investment from existing businesses, so it is clearly not the right area for more homes. If these homes are built, it’ll be bad news for the town’s economy."

Liam Booth, TMD Friction UK’s Hartlepool senior operations manager, said: "We have had previous experience with residential developments negatively impacting our business and are nervous this will happen again."

Marie Kiddell, head of public sector land at Homes England, said: "Homes England is in dialogue with the Tees Valley Combined Authority about the future opportunities for the Oakesway Estate, including selling all or part of the land to the interested parties. We will continue with our discussions until a suitable deal is concluded."

The body added that it has offered to sell the whole Oakesway site to the combined authority and has also offered to sell part of it to TMD Friction "in order to secure their future in Hartlepool".

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