Council land to be sold to buy unit

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PLANS to sell council-owned land next to a cemetery for housing have been rubber- stamped.

Hartlepool Borough Council has also bought a business unit as part of plans to regenerate part of the town centre.

The council has agreed to sell land in Tanfield Road, next to Stranton Cemetery, with the area being transformed into a housing estate.

It has also been agreed to buy the long lease of the former Focus DIY unit, in Lynn Street, and it could be turned into a council depot.

The council’s cabinet committee had given their backing to plans at the end of last month and the full council met on Thursday night to rubber stamp the proposals.

Officers say money from the sale of the Tanfield Road site will cover both the purchase and alteration costs of the former Focus building and provide a “substantial” surplus to help support the 2012-13 budget.

The financial details of the deal have not been released for confidentiality reasons.

Speaking at the meeting of the full council, Mayor Drummond said: “This would bring in a much larger capital receipt and bring in future funding.

“It has been through scrutiny and as I understand it has been well received.”

Councillors then voted in favour of the proposals.

Dave Stubbs, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, has previously said the Lynn Street building is “ideal” for council use and that the price agreed is less than two thirds of what they originally wanted.

Over the years, the three-acre Tanfield Road site has been put to various uses, including plant cultivation for the nursery and parks, storage for vehicles and equipment and parking for graveyard and parks and countryside staff.

There are currently a number of buildings on the land, including greenhouses, which will be moved to the nursery site.

Other buildings are either old or in poor condition and the site needs reinvestment of about £100,000 to bring it up to scratch.

The Lynn Street unit has not been used by Focus since 2006 although it has been occupied by a charity, Computers for Africa, in recent years.

The council owns the land surrounding it and officers say they could combine it with the current Lynn Street depot to create a larger mixed use development.

Alternatively it could be used for a residential, office and business-style development to help regenerate that part of town.

Another option is for parks and countryside staff from the Tanfield Road site to relocate there at a cost of £100,000.

Officers say it would cost £40,000 for electrical improvements, £10,000 for water and heating systems and £50,000 for work to the building.