Owners of Seaton Carew eyesore wanted £1m for building, inquiry told

Former Longscar Centre, Seaton Carew.

Former Longscar Centre, Seaton Carew.

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The owners of Seaton Carew’s Longscar building told council bosses they wanted in excess of £1million for the eyesore, an inquiry has heard.

Hartlepool Borough Council has submitted a Compulsary Purchase Order (CPO) for the property, which has been unused for several years.

The seven-figure sum set was considered by the council to be unrealistic and unjustified

Dale Clarke

That comes after they were unable to agree a price to buy it from brothers Terence and Barry Wilkinson, with the council valuing the building at £177,000.

The council plans to demolish it to make way for a public realm area, including leisure and tourism facilities where events can be held.

On the first day of the inquiry it warned that plans for a major regeneration of Seaton Carew could be put at risk unless it gained control of the property.

The Wilkinsons, meanwhile, say they hope to redevelop the building, creating up to 100 jobs by turning it into four holiday flats and nine other units, including a trampoline centre and bar.

The inquiry is set to conclude today at Hartlepool College of Further Education.

Yesterday, Hartlepool Borough Council’s estates and regeneration manager, Dale Clarke, told the inquiry: “The council has made extensive efforts since 2011 to purchase the land by agreement.

“Since the building closed in 2009, it has been left in a derelict state.

“Initially, the owners were willing to sell.

“However, the seven-figure sum set was considered by the council to be unrealistic and unjustified.”

The Wilkinson family set up Longsco Ltd in 2014 to refurbish the centre.

One of the directors of the company, Gary Wilkinson – who is Barry’s son – told the inquiry about their plans for it.

He said: “In the last 30 years, we have been involved with lots of buildings and projects, some of them bigger than this.

“We want to get the planning permission in for our refurbishment and get the project back on track.

“Myself and the other director – my cousin Craig – are both in a financial position to ensure this project succeeds.”

The inquiry is being presided over by planning inspector John Chase, who was told by Coun Paul Thompson – who represents the Seaton Ward – that the CPO should go though.

He said: “The future of the Longscar Centre has become the single most raised concern over my time as a councillor.

“The whole community is almost depressed by the building and extremely frustrated at the point we are at now.

“Local residents, in their masses, demand that action is taken and that the site is developed.”