Views wanted on Church Square plans

RESIDENTS will be asked for their views on council plans to spend up to £650,000 on regenerating a town centre square.

Hartlepool Borough Council has unveiled plans to revamp Church Square, in the centre of Hartlepool, as part of wider plans to create an innovation and skills quarter.

Proposals include remodelling the square, improving paving, expanding the grassed areas, widening the paths, more seating and installing new planting boxes for shrubs and trees.

The first phase is set to cost £650,000, and £520,000 has already been earmarked for the project.

Council officers say the improvements would help with the regeneration of Church Square alongside the new £52m Hartlepool College of Further Education building and the expansion of the Cleveland College of Art & Design, which has recently taken over the former Archive, Leadbitter and Municipal buildings.

Officers also want to pedestrianise the top end of the square near Stockton Street by changing the access to the car park behind the Leadbitter building.

Under the plans, which were discussed recently by cabinet committee members, the new access would be via the gate at the side of the Municipal building. Officials say the new multi-million pound transport interchange also means more people are now walking across the square.

Subject to funding, lighting could be improved and new art work and railings introduced as part of a second phase of improvement work.

Cabinet members have backed the scheme but the plans will now be sent out for public consultation to see if residents think it is value for money.

Details are still being confirmed but the consultation is expected to start within the next six weeks.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Derek Gouldburn, the council’s urban and planning policy manager, said: “This scheme is about trying to continue the regeneration of the town centre.

“We have identified this area as the innovation and skills quarter to try to boost investment.”

He said Church Square is looking “tired” and it is hoped the improvements would help attract students to study in Hartlepool and attract more businesses.

Residents will be able to take a closer look at the proposals at drop-in sessions at Christ Church, in Church Square.

There will also be display stands in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.

Officers could also attend public meetings and the plans are also expected to be published online and in libraries.