FAR-REACHING plans could transform the face of Hartlepool by creating new leisure, retail and tourist centres.
It includes a new leisure centre to replace Mill House, a new use for Jackson’s Landing, and new shops.
Council chiefs want to see a Hartlepool with a “vibrancy”.
They want to see an “urban spine” which means a better connection between the town centre and areas such as Church Street, Trincomalee Wharf and the Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience.
All this is included in a draft Masterplan which is the latest stage of the Hartlepool Vision campaign.
It is set to be discussed by Hartlepool Borough Council’s regeneration services committee on Thursday, January 15.
A report from the assistant director (regeneration) Damien Wilson to the meeting says: “The Masterplan forms part of the Hartlepool Vision which aims to revitalise the centre of Hartlepool, spark the town’s wider regeneration and lay the foundations for its future prosperity.”
It talks of creating “jobs for the future and enabling a new chapter in the economic growth of the borough”.
The proposals include:
•A new community and leisure facility to replace Mill House Leisure Centre. It would be built on the car park at the west of the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, behind York Road.
The report says: “The leisure facility could be linked to the creation of new retail units with active frontages and an improved external appearance of the centre. This could provide significant economic growth in the town centre.”
•Jackson’s Landing possibly becoming part of the Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience. The Hartlepool Mail exclusively revealed last week how HME could be rebranded as part the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN). If it happens, it could lead to a hotel, kiosks and pavilions at Jackson’s Landing.
•Middleton Grange’s frontage onto Victory Square being opened up.
•Improving access to the under-utilised multi-storey car park with traffic signals to allow a right turn out of the car park.
•Better facilities for pedestrians including a direct crossing on Stockton Street to halve crossing times, and widening the footpath on the bridge over the railway line from the transport interchange to Hartlepool Maritime Experience.
Council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said the local authority was “working at a pace which is unbelievable”.
He added: “This is the biggest investment Hartlepool has had since the Teesside Development Corporation.
“We need to invest and grow. We are not prepared to let Hartlepool die.”
Mr Wilson’s report says the proposals come after the council held a first round of talks with the public and businesses, voluntary groups and organisations.
It led to 628 individual responses highlighting overwhelming support for the Masterplan.
It also showed 94 per cent of people agreed that some or all of the priorities being considered for the Masterplan - which include making Hartlepool a major leisure and visitor destination, improving shopping in the town, the regeneration of Jackson’s Landing, Church Street and Trincomalee Wharf - are the correct priorities.
The results were used to help develop options for the draft Masterplan.
Mr Wilson’s report calls for committee members to note all the proposals and for the council to hold more talks with the public from Friday, January 16 to Thursday, February 12, including exhibitions.
After that, the draft Masterplan will be updated with the results from the consultation and the final Masterplan will be reported to the regeneration services committee in March this year, for adoption.
Mixed reaction from Hartlepool people
PEOPLE had a mixed response in Hartlepool when they gave their views to the Mail on the masterplan.
Student Thomas Bartholomew, 16, thought the plans were a top idea.
Thomas, from Catcote Road, Hartlepool, said: “I think a new leisure centre will be really good because Mill House has been there for ages and it’s a bit run down.
“The Jackson’s Landing building needs something doing with it as well because that’s just been abandoned for so long. I think it’s really positive for the town.”
Eighteen-year-old Tony McKinley, a student from the Dyke House area of town, agreed, saying: “I think it’s really good that the council want to improve the likes of Mill House and Jackson’s Landing.
“Mill House hasn’t been much good for ages.”
Pensioner Ann McKeown, a 64-year-old former mental health volunteer, from Hartlepool, said: “There are people starving in this town and having to use food kitchens, and the council want to spend money on these improvements?
“They say they have no money, but they can soon find it when it’s something that they want to spend it on.
“They should be using it on services and on helping the people who are struggling and in desperate need.”
Gemma Marsey, 18, a student from the Park Road area of Hartlepool, thought that the Mill House Leisure Centre part of the plan was a bad idea because “it’s not as if Mill House is dropping to bits”.
She said: “I don’t use the leisure centre myself, but it’s not as if it’s derelict or anything.
“Why don’t the council improve that existing building instead of knocking it down and building a new one.”