Council could buy £4.5m performing arts centre in Hartlepool

Tthe Northern Lights Academy on King Oswy Drive in Hartlepool.  Picture: DAVID WOOD
Tthe Northern Lights Academy on King Oswy Drive in Hartlepool. Picture: DAVID WOOD

Talks are taking place to try to re-open a £4.5million purpose-built performing arts centre which has been closed for two months.

The Northern Lights Academy, on King Oswy Drive, Hartlepool, was built with a grant through the multi-million-pound Myplace programme to deliver world-class youth facilities but has been closed since the end of August.

The council is very keen to resolve this complex issue and to see the building brought back into full use for the benefit of the community

Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman

The funding was delivered through the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Department for Education.

In 2010, St Hild’s Church of England School took over the management of the building following the retraction of an original agreement with the Headland Development Trust due to financial issues.

But the Diocese of Durham says it was only meant to be a short -term situation and it could no longer continue to pay the liabilities.

Now Hartlepool Borough Council has stepped into talks with the numerous parties and aims to lease or buy the building.

The authority denied reports equipment had been removed from the building.

A council spokesman said: “The council carried out a recent audit of the equipment in the building and there is no foundation to any suggestion that equipment has disappeared from the building.

“The council is very keen to resolve this complex issue and to see the building brought back into full use for the benefit of the community, which is why it is in discussions with the Department for Education, the Big Lottery Fund and the Diocese with a view to the council becoming either the leaseholder of the building or the owner.

“The council is also looking to develop a business plan aimed at ensuring that the building has a viable future.”

The council acknowledged the work by St Hild’s school to help keep the building running for as long as possible.

The authority stated in a report, considered by the Finance and Policy Committee in September, that the state-of-the -art facility has the potential to offer high quality creative and educational opportunities and apprenticeships for 14 to19-year-olds.

It added it could be developed for the wider community.

The Diocese of Durham, which owns the land, said it stepped in to stop the academy becoming rundown.

A spokesman said: ”This situation continued for a period of time but now the school is unable to continue to finance the liabilities of the building.

“The Diocese does not own or have any liability for the building and will continue working in conjunction with Hartlepool Borough Council to try to ensure that the building can be maintained for the use of the community.”