The opening of a new £3million creative centre in Hartlepool has been praised as an ‘exciting chapter for the town’.
The BIS – a centre for ‘creating Businesses through Innovation and Skills’- has officially opened following the refurbishment of the Grade II-listed former Post Office building in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.
Hartlepool Borough Council, the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) and The Northern School of Art have worked in partnership on the project as part of a wider ongoing council initiative developing the Innovation and Skills Quarter around Church Street.
Leaders from the organisations said it will help put Hartlepool on the map for its creative work and help uncover stars of the future.
The centre, open to new and existing business, features 28 units of various sizes – a mix of studios, workshops and office space – of which half are already allocated.
Council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, who officially opened the centre, said it will leave a lasting legacy in the town and help create jobs.
He said: “This is my baby as it were, we’ve gone on a fantastic journey, everybody involved in it, I just think it’s absolutely remarkable what we’ve achieved.
“It’s an exciting chapter in the whole regeneration of the town, what we’re doing in Church Street and Church Square, we’ve got the work going on on Stockton Street.
“This impressive new building will provide the perfect environment in which our new and existing businesses in the creative industries can grow and flourish, creating more local jobs.
“I want it to help keep people in Hartlepool, to help people work locally, trade globally, and put Hartlepool on the map for the future.
“It’s what I’ve been about as leader of the council.”
The council and The Northern School of Art will be running a full programme of creative-themed events and seminars at The BIS throughout the year, for businesses across the town.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said the centre will provide a boost to the creative industry in Hartlepool.
He said: “Ridley Scott created and made his first film in Hartlepool, this space I think raises aspirations for young people in the town and within the creative industries to start looking at themselves in a space like this.
“Given a space like this it’s only a matter of time before we find the next Ridley Scott in the town.
“It’s the type of space you would expect to see in places like Greater London, and it’s here in Hartlepool.
“I think this is a great start as part of the wider development of Church Street. This is a fantastic start to this.”
Andy Kennedy, managing director at Reactive Design, who will be using a unit in the centre, praised the development and the impact it would have for businesses.
He said: “We’re a creative business based in the town for 14 years, and I was born and bred in Hartlepool.
“With the investment going on in the Innovation and Skills Quarter, it makes sense for us to be based in that quarter.
“I think the building is wonderful, it’s nice to see the building being brought back to life for the right reasons.”
The site also features two fully equipped meeting and conference rooms, which are also available to hire.
Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service.