Council to discuss eyesore purchase

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COUNCIL plans to buy a derelict retail unit that has stood empty for years could move a step closer next week.

Hartlepool Borough Council is considering buying Jacksons Landing, on Hartlepool Marina, and senior councillors will discuss the latest developments at a meeting on Monday.

The rumoured sale figure is around the £2m mark – but council officers have previously said that it would be “inappropriate” to reveal how much they plan to pay at this stage.

It is part of plans to regenerate the area.

Earlier this year officers entered into an exclusivity agreement with the owners Schroders to buy the building, which has stood empty since July 2004.

A price was agreed and a ‘lock-out’ agreement set to give the council time to carry out a feasibility study.

The council’s cabinet committee is due to meet on Monday, October 3, to see what interest the local authority has had in the site.

A report by Dave Stubbs, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “Bids are to be returned on Friday, September 30, and throughout the process we have always reported that the purchase and scale will, at worse, be cost neutral with the potential for a surplus to be achieved.

“We do not know in the current market conditions what level of bids we will receive. I will be able to report to members on October 3 the results of those bids.

“However if the bids do not realise a surplus, or indeed might result in a cost to the council to regenerate the area, then cabinet and indeed council will need to review their decision.

“The lock-out agreement will expire shortly, hence the urgency of the situation.”

Cabinet members will be asked to consider whether to buy Jacksons Landing in the light of the bids the council has received.

Earlier this year, councillors gave their backing to buy the building – which was valued at £10m before the credit crunch – at a meeting of the full council.

At the time, senior officers said that they hope to make a “six figure” profit from the move.

The council had initially considered refurbishing the existing building but the plan is to buy the site and sell it on for redevelopment, which could involve demolition.

But the local authority would have more control over how the site is regenerated and the aspiration is for it to be a mix of residential, hotel, restaurant and bar facilities.

The majority of councillors backed plans to borrow money to finance the deal.

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

The £5.5m project, which at its height featured 23 factory outlet units, opened in 1995.

The cabinet committee is due to meet on Monday, October 3, at the civic centre, in Victoria Road, at 9.15am.