A MUlTI-MIllION pound bid to revitalise Hartlepool is officially underway - with campaigners telling the sceptics: “Just give us a chance.”
On the very day that the brand new Hartlepool Vision was being outlined, critics were already posting comments on websites and social media sites to slam the ambitious project which could create 2,000 jobs.
But today, the leaders behind the scheme hit back and urged people to stop sniping and start being positive.
And they did it with the ultra-positive message: “It starts now – and we need to make Hartlepool a regional attraction.”
Christopher Akers-Belcher, the Hartlepool Borough Council leader, said: “We will meet challenges and we will meet critics, but I would say they are the ones lacking the commitment and drive to take Hartlepool forward.”
He said the Vision should be about making Hartlepool “a hub”
He added: “Everyone has a role to play in making this a vibrant town for the future.”
And to show their sheer determination to succeed, council chiefs announced immediate plans to tender for a firm to create a master plan on the Vision.
It’s a plan which would be drawn up in nine to 12 months time – combining all the proposals that have been gathered on what an exciting new Hartlepool should look like.
Council chief executive Dave Stubbs admitted it may cost anywhere from £50,000 to £100,000 to find the right firm to draw up the plan, but he added: “This is a radical blueprint to revitalise Hartlepool.”
He told dozens of residents, who gathered at the Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience to hear more: “We want your comments. Get on board.”
He said public meetings would be held to gauge views and added: “Phone us, talk to us. We can come to you if you want.”
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.
A glossy new document explained more about some of the “ideas” for development.
* Church Street would be “at the heart of a vibrant innovation and skills quarter”.
* Hartlepool waterfront – including Jacksons landing, Trincomalee Wharf and the Maritime Experience – would be the thriving hub for restaurants, cafes, bars and shops to “add to the mix at nearby Navigation Point”.
* The town centre would offer an “improved retail offer” as well as greater commercial, leisure and cultural uses. It would also have closer links with the waterfront and Church Street.
* Seaton Carew would have beachfront development to support existing businesses.
* The Headland could have cafes, shops and new houses on a waterfront site currently being used as a car park.
* The town’s enterprise zone sites would continue pressing for investment in fields such as renewable energy.
* Wynyard would be a flagship development, and would house the planned hospital development as well as other projects.
Yesterday, two meetings were held at the Maritime Experience, the first step in engaging every sector of Hartlepool life in the ambitious new plan.
The first saw 193 business people, representing 160 businesses, pack into the Sir William Gray Suite.
Damien Wilson, Hartlepool Borough Council’s assistant director (regeneration), told them: “It is all about promoting Hartlepool as a quality. thriving destination.
“This should send a message out to investors that there is a fantastic opportunity here for them.”