Specialist care centre to create 200 jobs in Hartlepool

PLANS: The Hartlepool Educational Development Centre
PLANS: The Hartlepool Educational Development Centre

INNOVATIVE plans for a brand new healthcare facility in Hartlepool could lead to the creation of 200 new jobs.

Regeneration chiefs at Hartlepool Borough Council have revealed developers are looking to build the new residential care facility on council-owned land in Seaton Lane, Hartlepool.

The three parcels of land - which includes the Educational Development Centre (EDC) - had been earmarked for housing but a previous deal fell through which has cleared the way for this new “much-needed” accommodation for people with mental health and brain injuries.

Plans are still very much in the early stages but councillors sitting on the council’s finance and policy committee were due to meet this morning to discuss the proposals.

The local authority is looking to enter into an exclusive agreement with the developers over the next four months so they can carry out their own site investigation works.

If the plans got the green light the major jobs boost would be a mix of full and part-time roles.

In a council report Denise Ogden, the director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “The proposed development will provide good quality modern residential care for mental health, and acquired brain injury accommodation and will provide employment, currently estimated by the developer at 150 to 200 jobs - including part time.”

Councillors had first agreed back in October 2013 to the sale of the three areas of land in Seaton Lane for housing.

But the sale of the land fell through after the successful bidder reduced their bid for the site after full site investigation work was carried out.

That meant the local authority and the previous developers couldn’t agree “an acceptable price” and they withdrew from the sale.

Recently though, Hartlepool Council has been approached by a healthcare developer looking for sites in the Hartlepool area to construct specialist care facilities for which officers say there is currently a shortage.

The developer, which has not yet been revealed at this stage, is interested in all three of the sites that were previously marketed.

A proposal being put before senior councillors this morning was to grant a four-month exclusivity agreement) to allow the developer to carry out their own site investigation works.

Council directors say then negotiations will take place to agree a final price, subject to committee approval.

Mrs Ogden added: “The sale of the sites forms an integral part of the medium term financial strategy.

“The reason for granting an exclusivity agreement is to allow the developer to carry out site investigations and related works, with a lowered risk of abortive costs.

“Given the substantial work involved, the developer requires a period of exclusivity during which the council will not market the land or have discussions with any other party regarding disposal.

“The intention of the developer is to make an offer for the land once he has completed the site investigation work and terms have been discussed on a subject to contract basis that are acceptable.

“The alternative of simply re-marketing the sites for sale is likely to take longer to achieve a sale, and a further advantage is that the proposed development will not compete with other sites that the council has in the disposal programme as it will not be developed for private market housing.”

The plans would be subject to planning permission and the confidential details of the exclusivity agreement were included in council papers to committee members.

Council chiefs say the educational development centre, in Seaton Lane, will soon be vacant and security arrangements are being made. Current future options for the building include re-use and demolition.

The Pupil Referral Unit and education development centre, both currently based at the Golden Flatts site at Seaton Lane, are to relocate on the lower part of the former Brierton School site.