Ambitious plans for Hartlepool town centre expected to take shape this year

An artist's impression of a pedestrianised Church Street.

An artist's impression of a pedestrianised Church Street.

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Ambitious plans affecting a busy Hartlepool area will become reality this year, council chiefs have predicted.

They expect changes for Church Street and Church Square to be completed by December.

One of the major things that will be happening will be for the work to commence on Church Street. By the time we get to December 2017, that whole scheme should be complete.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher

The pedestrianisation of large parts of the area, as well as a centre of innovation for students who want to go into business, has been discussed for months.

But council leader, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, in an interview with the Hartlepool Mail, predicted that by December this year, the whole scheme for the Church Street area should be completed.

He added: “Marrying up with that is we received about £1m from the Heritage Lottery for Church Square. That will be done roughly the same time for completion and that will really open up that whole area as a pedestrianised area because the road is going to be removed completely, and that is going to give us some really high quality public realm events space on Church Square.”

He also talked of a bid to secure money to upgrade Stockton Street for “connectivity between the town centre and Church Square.”

Along with the new-look Cleveland College of Art and Design, he described it as “mammoth” and said the whole investment was “probably bordering on nearly £20m by the time all of that is completed.”

Chief executive Gill Alexander described it as a “complete revitalisation and transformation of Church Street/Church Square.”

She also talked of a centre of innovation and skills, a “cluster of new, emerging enterprises” in the creative and cultural sector.

To do that, she said, the council had a partnership with the College of Art & Design to help generate new and innovative business.

“We have bought the former GPO building and bringing forward plans to have a complete transformation of that building,” she said. “That will be developed as a managed workspace for new student businesses to be established and supported by the council in terms of the business side of things, but by the college in terms of the concepts that they bring forward.”