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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

New access road and A19 junction improvements approved despite dozens of objections8

A new access road into Hartlepool including highway improvement around the A19 has been approved.

Plans were submitted to Hartlepool Council planning department last year for the construction of a new "grade separated" junction linked to the A19. The Hartlepool Western Link project, previously labelled the Elwick bypass, features the erection of a circular ramped slip road, a bridge structure and a new highway north of Elwick Village connecting to existing routes.

But a total 26 objections were submitted by residents to the plans, which included worries around how the proposals stop access to and from the A19 via Church Bank. One family, who have run nearby Dovecote Farm for 100 years, previously spoke out that the changes.

Proposals, submitted by council officers, state the near mile-long road, running from the locally named Devil's Elbow, in Elwick Road, to the existing A19 junction at North Lane, will bring "significant benefits". This includes providing a "safe and effective third main access point from the A19 into and out of Hartlepool."

The application was approved by eight votes to two at the latest meeting of the council's planning committee, in line with officer recommendations.

Kieran Campbell, senior planning officer, said: "It will assist in enabling the local authority to meet its housing needs whilst also providing improved quality of life within the village of Elwick by reducing traffic through the village."

He added the scheme will also alleviate congestion on the A689 and A179. In total 26 objections were submitted by residents to the plans, which included worries around how the proposals stop access to and from the A19 via Church Bank.

Speaking at the meeting, Andrea Downing, from Sheraton Design and Build, said the closure would have a "negative impact on businesses" and force large delivery vehicles to navigate narrow and weight restricted roads and go through the village of Elwick to join the A19.

She added Dovecote Farm and Discount Equestrian will also be impacted. Ms Downing said: "I just don't see how businesses are going to be viable once you close that access."

Planning reports noted while the closures will have "adverse impacts" they are "considered not to be critical" and are "outweighed" by the scheme's benefits.

Last month, Susan Leonard, 73 - whose family have run Dovecote Farm, in Elwick, for almost a century - raised worries over how the plans would involve closing key routes for their farm.

Susan Leonard (front left) with family members Amelia and Mark Leonard, Joanne Grieves with her children Daniel and Emily, Elizabeth Charlton and Fredrick Grieves at their family farm (Image: National World (with permission)) 

Ms Leonard told the Local Democracy Reporting Services that changes will stop vehicles being able to turn left from their farm to join the A19 southbound and added that the alternative route, which would involve passing through Elwick village to join the new bypass, will be "dangerous" and "impossible" for larger farm vehicles due to weight restrictions and "far too narrow" roads.

No timescale was given for when work will commence, however officers stated it would take "months, to potentially a year" to fulfil conditions linked to the application and finalise the detailed design process.

They added the approval means the council can now push forward with compulsory purchase orders over the coming months to acquire the land needed, and they aim to get on site "as soon as possible."

Councillor Mike Young, Leader of Hartlepool Council and Vice-Chair of the authority’s Planning Committee, said: “The granting of planning permission by the Planning Committee is an important milestone in the development of this important infrastructure scheme which will bring significant benefits to the Borough of Hartlepool.

“The new junction and road will help to improve the quality of life and safety of residents in Elwick and the neighbouring community of Dalton Piercy, it will unlock land for much-needed new housing and it will relieve traffic congestion on the existing A689 and A179 roads.

“I still hope that agreement can be reached with landowners, but the authority is committed to proceeding with the CPO process should that ultimately prove not to be possible.”

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