TWO thousand jobs could be created for a new-look Hartlepool.
That’s the prediction of experts who are drawing up the Hartlepool Vision proposal.
And their message to the world was “this town is open for business”.
The far-reaching plan was being unveiled officially for the first time today and delegates from the business community, as well as landowners and residents, were gathering at the Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience to find out more.
The proposals are still in the early stages and open to further planning, but eight key areas will be part of the campaign to breathe new life and jobs into the town.
They are the town centre, Jacksons Landing/Trincomalee Wharf and the marina, Church Street, Seaton Carew, the Headland, Wynyard, the Port and Queens Meadow.
Damien Wilson, Hartlepool Borough Council’s assistant director (regeneration), said: “It is not unrealistic to estimate that 2,000 jobs could be created.”
He dismissed fears that the Vision was merely a pipe dream and said: “If you looked at Hartlepool in 1985, and said ‘you will have a marina there. You will have a maritime experience, and you will have all that as well as hotels,’ people would say it was never going to happen.
“We have got to remind ourselves how far we have come.”
The important issue now, he said, was to be ambitious for the town’s future. “If we aim low, that is what we will get. We will get mediocrity”, he said.
“If we aim high, we can say to potential investors ‘Hartlepool is open for business and it has big aspirations’”.
He said an important part of it all was for the people and businesses of the town to have input in the Vision, which wasn’t a fixed proposal.
Whereas one proposal might be for shops, others may see it as a better area for restaurants.
And where one idea may be for a leisure centre, others may see it as a better site for a five-star hotel, said Mr Wilson.
He added: “We need to invigorate a big area and this is a once in 100-year opportunity to shape Hartlepool.
“The people who created Hartlepool 150 years ago were visionaries and thought outside the box. If we do not think imaginatively and creatively, we shall never make it.
“The next nine to 12 months are critical. We shall get experts in to deliver a master plan, to evaluate and deliver the aspirations as a consequence of engaging with business, developers and local residents.”
Mr Wilson said he hoped Hartlepool would create a vision which would attract outside investment into the town.
But it was also important to re-capture the spending money which was “leaking out of the town” and making Hartlepool a place where people would want to stay and invest.
“We have to think about what we can put into this Vision which will drive investment.”