Council to discuss derelict unit

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SENIOR councillors will be asked to back plans to buy a derelict retail unit that has stood empty for years.

Hartlepool Borough Council wants to buy Jacksons Landing, at Hartlepool Marina, which has stood empty since July 2004.

Earlier this year the council entered into an exclusivity agreement with the owners Schroders, a global asset management company.

A sale price – which has not been revealed – was agreed as part of a “lock out agreement”.

That allowed a comprehensive feasibility study to be carried out by Tees Valley Unlimited.

Prior to the property market being hit by the credit crunch, the building was worth up to £10m. But it is understood any deal would be for a fraction of that figure.

The council’s cabinet committee, chaired by Mayor Stuart Drummond, will meet next week to discuss the latest developments.

Members are asked to back plans to borrow money to buy the building before they are sent to full council for approval in August.

The lock out agreement gave the council time to work on plans and officers say they are considering all options.

That could include turning the site into office, retail and accommodation space or demolishing the building.

Officers say there is “limited” market interest to justify significant council investment to refurbish the existing building but there has been “developer interest” in a complete redevelopment.

A report by Graham Frankland, the council’s assistant director (resources), said: “A significant amount of work has been undertaken over the last six months to negotiate a price with the current owners Schroders and develop a range of business plans considering opportunities to either refurbish the existing building or undertake a comprehensive redevelopment of the site.

“A lock out agreement is in place until August 31 enabling a purchase to be completed at the agreed price by this date.

“The site represents a major regeneration opportunity for the town and provides the potential for a landmark scheme.”

The building was placed on a hit list of buildings needing action to prevent them spoiling the look of the town.

Jacksons Landing is one of the eyesores featured in the Mail’s Spot the Grots campaign, which was launched after Mayor Drummond drew up a shortlist of landmarks that are badly in need of repair.

The £5.5m project opened in 1995 and was seen as the centrepiece of the marina’s reincarnation.

The cabinet committee is due to meet on Monday, July 4, at 9.15am at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.

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