AMBITIOUS plans to redevelop Victoria Park could see a hotel built into a new stand, the town’s mayor today revealed.
The proposal for Hartlepool United’s ground is part of the Mill House Masterplan which aims to transform that area of Hartlepool with residential, business and leisure developments.
And today further hopes for the masterplan, which could see Pools secure ownership of their Victoria Park ground, were revealed by Mayor Stuart Drummond.
Civic chiefs say it is still early days, but one possibility is the football club building a new Rink End stand which could incorporate community and leisure facilities and even a hotel.
Plans would see Hartlepool United join some of the country’s biggest clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea, Bolton and West Ham, who have all incorporated hotels as part of their stadiums.
The all-seated Smith & Graham stand, known as the Rink End, has a capacity of 1,033 and currently houses the away fans.
Mayor Drummond said: “It is by no means l Turn to Page 4
certain and it is one idea raised as part of the masterplan.
“With these things I think you have to be ambitious and there are other clubs elsewhere that have incorporated hotels into a stand.
“It is at an early stage and work needs to be done to see if it is feasible.”
The future of Victoria Park, which the club currently lease from Hartlepool Borough Council for around £18,000 a year, is a major part of the scheme.
Mayor Drummond has previously said he is in favour of transferring the ground to the club for free as part of the wider regeneration plans.
The ground is valued at around £625,000, but could change hands without payment.
Officers are still working on the masterplan, but a number of organisations could be involved including Camerons Brewery, which owns the Mill House pub, Cleveland College of Art and Design, which is hoping to secure student accommodation, and Hartlepool College of Further Education.
Mayor Drummond, who said there is a great deal of “enthusiasm and goodwill”, added: “There is a lot of potential and it is good to see the town working together.
“Over the years we have had many discussions about different parts of the site and for the first time the pieces are being put together.”
Mayor Drummond said existing hotel accommodation in town is busy during the week and the new hotel would prove an asset to away fans in particular.
There is already a number of hotels in the centre of town including the Grand Hotel, the Premier Inn hotel, off Maritime Avenue while construction work is well underway for a new 62-bedroom Travelodge hotel at The Lanyard.
Mayor Drummond added: “The club has said that with large away followings they are losing revenue because of the capacity of the stand.
“There has been a lot of big clubs that have sold out and if the stand was to double in size then that would be further income for the club.
“They have always been keen to expand.”
Earlier this year the Mill House Masterplan moved a step closer after it was backed by the council’s cabinet committee in March.
Cabinet members approved the development of the masterplan and approved Gus Robinson Developments as the preferred bidder.
No recommendations about the sale or transfer of the ground itself were made by cabinet as that decision lies with full council.
Mayor Drummond said the full council could meet as early as June to discuss the sale or transfer of the ground, but said councillors need to be fully briefed beforehand.
Speaking at the March cabinet meeting, Graham Frankland, the council’s assistant director (resources), said the council would be looking at restrictive covenants if the ground was transferred.
Russ Green, Hartlepool United’s chief executive, has previously welcomed the chance to secure ownership of the ground for free as part of the wider regeneration plan.