Talks held over future of the £4.5million Northern Lights Academy

General view of the Northern Lights Academy on King Oswy Drive in Hartlepool.
General view of the Northern Lights Academy on King Oswy Drive in Hartlepool.

Talks are underway to find a future use for the £4.5million Northern Lights Academy.

Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs have invited discussions with a number of key organisations to try and secure the future of the key building in the town.

The Northern Lights Academy in King Oswy Drive opened in 2011 after receiving a multi-million pound grant through the Big Lottery Fund Myplace Programme.

But, the £4.5million state of the art facility for dance, music production, film production and performing arts struggled to reach its potential and temporarily closed in September 2015.

The funding was delivered through the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Department for Education.

Although Hartlepool Borough Council was not involved in the initial project, councillors are keen to explore whether the building can be brought back into use.

Councillor Alan Clark, chair of the Council’s Children’s Services Committee, says the building has huge potential and could be developed into a cultural education centre.

He said: “The building has huge potential so during the last two weeks we invited a number of organisations from the professional arts, media and education sector to determine the level of interest.

“At this stage we are simply exploring whether there is an opportunity to bring partner organisations together in the hope that the Northern Lights Academy building can become a vibrant beacon of excellence in cultural education and be a useful resource for the local community.

“Moving forward, any future scheme would have to be self-financing because the council doesn’t have the resources itself to fund the building.

“It is hoped that we can find a solution to bring the building back into use but any proposals would of course be fully consulted upon with the local community.”

In 2010, St Hild’s Church of England School took over the management of the building following the retraction of an original agreement with the Headland Development Trust due to financial issues.

But the Diocese of Durham says it was only meant to be a short-term situation and it could no longer continue to pay the liabilities.

Hartlepool Borough Council stepped into talks with the numerous parties to find a solution for the facility.

For further information, contact Katie Hammond at the council on 01429 523672 or email: katie.hammond@hartlepool.gov.uk