COUNCILLORS have welcomed plans to consult developers on how council-owned sites at a popular seaside resort could be transformed.
Regeneration officers at Hartlepool Borough Council have been given approval by the cabinet committee to ask for “initial expressions” of interest from developers in the three sites at Seaton Carew.
It is part of a wider strategy aimed at breathing new life into the area and attracting new investment.
A report said council officers are looking for “inspirational, inventive and original” ideas for a mix of commercial and residential developments.
One of the sites is a stretch of land at The Front, which includes the Rocket House car park, bus station and former fairground site and the privately-owned Longscar Centre, which has stood empty for a number of years.
Council officers say they are working with the owners to secure the site through an agreement or use planning powers to ensure that it contributes to their plans.
Other areas include the site of the Seaton Carew Youth Centre and Community Sports Hall, in Elizabeth Way, and a stretch of land near to the junction of Coronation Drive and Warrior Drive, which officers say has potential for new houses.
Councillors representing the Seaton ward have welcomed the move, but called for consultation to be carried out.
Independent councillor Paul Thompson said: “I think this is really positive and it will hopefully bring long-lasting benefits to Seaton Carew.
“Hopefully some really exciting ideas will come from this exercise.”
Independent councillor Michael Turner, who also welcomed the move, said: “People living in the area do have concerns about flooding and access issues at Coronation Drive if houses were to be built there and it is important there is a consultation exercise.”
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “This is about testing the market and I think there will be interest there.”
Cabinet member Cath Hill, an independent Seaton councillor, backed the move, but called for assurances that the paddling pool at The Front would not be sold off, which officers confirmed.
Community facilities would need to be relocated elsewhere in Seaton Carew if the Elizabeth Way site is redeveloped.
Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said there has been some positive feedback from a small number of developers through informal discussions but there is a need for a “wider understanding” of the likely interest to allow senior councillors to make informed decisions about the possible sale of the sites in the future.
Developers will be asked to highlight what they could use the sites for before March 21 and a report will be sent back to cabinet in April.
The council’s aims include improving the area as a tourist destination, promote the areas assets including the beach and promenade, and increase investment.