Hartlepool home for refugees gets go-ahead after appeal
Hartlepool Borough Council is facing a sizeable legal bill after a government planning inspector overturned its refusal for a refugees home.
The authority was criticised by the inspector for “unreasonable behaviour” in turning down the home of multiple occupancy in Tankerville Street on grounds of being in a high crime area and lack of parking.
Inspector Mark Caine said the council had caused the applicant Jomast unnecessary expense by going against the advice of its own officers and the police.
Mr Caine said in his decision: “Members appear to have given little weight to the information provided by the appellant, their professional officers or the police.”
The council’s planning committee unanimously refused permission for the former hostel last September.
Councillors said they felt the location was unsuitable being in an area of higher than average crime and anti-social behaviour.
They were also unhappy at no assurances the home would only be used by women and children in the future.
But Mr Caine said: “Nonetheless there is no evidence to suggest that this would inevitably result in an increase in crime. Furthermore, the expressed fear of crime was a vague and generalised assertion about the proposal’s impact, which was unsupported by objective analysis and not supported evidentially.
“This amounts to unreasonable behaviour.”
Mr Caine added there was no evidence the area had problems with car parking and the levels of car ownership by residents of the home is expected to be low.
Urban regeneration firm Jomast made the original application as part of a Home Office contract to temporarily house asylum seekers.
Managing director Stuart Monk said: “We are pleased the inspector upheld our appeal and confirmed the decision in accordance with the officers’ recommendation.
“The committee obviously got it wrong. We hope to resolve the costs with the council by agreement.”
The committee is due to discuss the appeal on Wednesday.