COUNCILLORS are being asked to endorse plans to develop a new masterplan aimed at regenerating the centre of Hartlepool - including the site of a derelict retail unit the council has just bought for £1.5m.
Hartlepool Borough Council recently exchanged contracts with owner Schroders for the Jacksons Landing unit, at Hartlepool Marina, as part of much wider proposals to regenerate key areas at the marina, Mill House, Church Street and town centre.
The deal for the five-acre site, which has been empty since July 2004, is being paid for using a two-year interest-free loan from a Government growth fund.
Senior officers are asking the council’s regeneration services committee to endorse a brief for the Hartlepool Regeneration Masterplan and give officers permission to appoint expert consultants to prepare the document through a tender exercise.
Ahead of today’s meeting, Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said Hartlepool would “bid to create a destination where people would want to stay longer”.
Mr Wilson added: “If we have a step change where we are bigger and bolder and we compete regionally, we shall draw people in.
“That is what national investors will sit up and take notice of.”
Mr Wilson said the authority could not yet go into the specifics of the master plan and what the proposals could be, but he added: “It is about jobs and growth.”
He said the council planned to “do a full master plan of that area based on leisure, retail and tourism development to greater enhance and have a designated step change from what we have in that area, to make it a sub-regional, or regional attraction.”
Key sites within the masterplan include Jacksons Landing - which could be new leisure facilities, tourism or a mixed-use development - the Church Street/Lynn Street area, Mill House, Trincomalee Wharf and the wider marina area will also be included.
The masterplan process will also consider the future retail potential of the town centre and a Retail Revival Strategy will be prepared.
Mr Wilson, who said Hartlepool had the highest level of gross weekly average wage in the Tees Valley at £504 a week, added: “But it is being spent outside of Hartlepool.
“People go to Middlesbrough, or Stockton, or Durham. But if we create the right destination, we can stop the leak of money outside the area and attract new money in.
“The money is here, but it is not being spent here.”
In July the finance and policy committee, and subsequently full council, gave officers the green light to buy the Jacksons Landing site instead of withdrawing its interest and relying on the owner to market the site.