THE next stage towards the regeneration of a key area of Hartlepool has been given the go ahead.
Church Street will be the focus of a major revamp in a bid by town leaders to attract new businesses and investment.
The regeneration project is being spearheaded by Hartlepool Borough Council as part of the town centre Masterplan regeneration scheme.
The improvements to Church Street are being designed to tie in with a multi-million expansion of Cleveland College of Art and Design.
The regeneration of Church Street has two main elements; one to improve the streetscape making it more pedestrian friendly.
The other is to create space for start-up businesses including creative industries for art college graduates.
Councillor Kevin Cranney, vice chairman of the council’s Regeneration Services Committee, said: “A lot of people who undertake college courses leave town and set up elsewhere so this is about trying to retain them in the town. With the college doubling in size there’s going to be more graduates. Church Street can capitalize on that.”
The council says the regeneration of Church Street and surrounding area is a key priority given its potential to boost the economic growth of the town.
The development of an Innovation and Skills Quarter aims to redefine the area by changing how it is viewed to encourage investment and demand.
A council report stated: “The re-use of existing buildings is the key to the revival of Church Street and if successful offers the greatest regeneration benefit and impact.”
Full pedestrianisation of Church Street was considered but the preferred choice now is to narrow the road to traffic creating more space for businesses and pedestrians.
The council is applying to the Heritage Lottery’s Townscape Heritage Programme for funding towards the improvements.
Council chief executive Dave Stubbs added: “This just has to happen. The council will also have to look at our own funding as well as grants.”
The Regeneration Services Committee approved the production of draft design and costs for the environmental improvement scheme.
It also approved feasibility and development work on the creation of workspace for creative entrepreneurs using £25,000 from the project’s £355,000 budget. Members also agreed the council develops a strategy for acquiring buildings within the Church Street area for new businesses.