Hartlepool’s historic heart has been given a huge jobs-boosting cash injection.
Jubilant councillors are celebrating after the Heritage Lottery Fund announced £1.2million to help breathe new life into Church Street.
The shot-in-the-arm grant was hailed as a huge boost for an area which has been earmarked for big things as part of the wider-reaching Hartlepool Vision.
The money will help to launch new community projects and rejuvenate historic buildings.
The Church Street plans will highlight the history of the area and the significant role it played in the development of Hartlepool today.
And it follows hard on the heels of the £5.5million Local Growth Fund allocation from the Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership announced last year.
Church Street is one of eight parts of town identified in the Hartlepool Vision plan to spark regeneration, create jobs and ensure future prosperity for the town.
Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher, vice-chair of Hartlepool Council’s Regeneration Services Committee, hailed the £1.2m injection as “a huge boost to our exciting plans to enhance the heritage of Church Street to create jobs and improve the local environment.”
And when it is added to the £5.5million announced last year, it will be an enormous help, he added.
“Together with the £5.5million Local Growth Fund grant, the funding will help enormously to turn our exciting vision into reality and transform a key part of our town for businesses, residents and visitors.” The area is known as the Church Street Innovation & Skills Quarter.
Developments are already under way, such as the new £11m state-of-the-art Cleveland College of Art and Design.
Coun Akers-Belcher added: “Preserving and enhancing heritage is important for the future of the town and this is an opportunity to work with communities, businesses and visitors to improve this significant Conservation Area.”
But now, even more schemes can be planned.
Empty buildings can be brought back into use. Existing ones can be improved so they look better.
And new street furniture will help enhance the whole area.
Coun Jim Ainslie, a local councillor for the area and the Council’s Heritage Champion, said: “This is an area which is steeped in history and with some fantastic buildings which we must preserve for future generations.
“The aim of the Church Street Innovation and Skills Quarter is to create a vibrant environment where new businesses can thrive, creating job opportunities for the people of our town.”
Heritage Lottery Fund Chair, Sir Peter Luff, said:“Historic town centres are the beating heart of communities, so where they fall into disrepair, the community pays a heavy price.
“Research shows that this can be changed and that even small changes - improving shop fronts or restoring architectural features - can make a real difference.”
He said the Townscape Heritage scheme would boost the local economy and should help to create jobs and training opportunities.
It paves the way for start-up spaces for small businesses and for enhanced public places for residents and visitors, he added.
“Townscape Heritage funding has made a huge difference to communities across the UK and this is only possible thanks to National Lottery players.”
The Council has already consulted the Church Street community on its plans. More talks are planned soon.
• For more information, contact Hartlepool Council on (01429) 523531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Smart vision of regeneration
• The Hartlepool Vision aims to regenerate eight key areas. It was first unveiled early in 2014.
• They are the town centre, Jacksons Landing/Trincomalee Wharf and the marina, Church Street, Seaton Carew, the Headland, Wynyard, the Port and Queens Meadow.
• The proposals could eventually bring 2,000 jobs to the area.
• As part of the proposal, Church Street will be developed as a Hartlepool Innovation Skills Quarter which £5m injection for town revitalisation will create small scale, high quality workspace and studios.
• This time last year, the Government announced a £13m boost for the Tees Valley with £5m going to the Vision proposals.