The oldest historical part of Hartlepool, the Headland, has a rich heritage encompassing maritime, religious, commercial and military activities, yet is in a state of worrying decline. Having grown and evolved over the ages from a fisherman's settlement on a peninsula to the commercial centre of an industrial town during the 19th century, it lost over the last quarter of the 20th century its vital economical and administrative functions. Bulk shipment of coal disappeared and most industrial, civic and commercial activities, including a modern marina, were established on the main shore and hinterland of West Hartlepool and the Headland lost its sense of purpose but has retained enough of its heritage to remain an intriguing place.
The Prince's Foundation for Building Community invited Peter Verschuren to participate in a three day workshop to assist with the development of a Neighbourhood Plan for The Headland. As part of a multi-disciplinary team of specialists in retail, economics, heritage and traffic/roads engineering, the team explored the relevant issues and opportunities in the area. Under the leadership of Mark Greaves of The Prince's Foundation (and now of Mark Greaves Urbanism) daily meetings were organized with local residents and resident's groups, business representatives of the Headland and professionals of the local authority. Through this workshop the team drew up a vision and masterplan for the future of the Headland. The vision and masterplan were supported by a variety of strategies and priority actions to be included in the Neighbourhood Plan.
The strategies and actions concerning urbanism and urban design focussed partly on suggestions for short-term, quick win improvements such as replacing fences and repairing historic remains but also extended to more ambitious, mixed-use urban infill projects to restore and create an attractive harbour front. A proposal was suggested for development around a central square which would provide housing and improve the amenity of the square as a public space. A proposal for housing development was also brought forward on a sensitive site adjacent to an historic friary building. In addition to providing housing the layout of this proposed development helps to repair the urban pattern of the area. Suggestions were also made for improvements to the traffic system and for a modest pedestrian connection with West Hartlepool by a narrow bridge or a small ferry crossing the harbour.
March 2013. Invited by The Prince's Foundation for Building Community, UK.
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