Council land to be sold for housing

COUNCIL-OWNED land next to a cemetery is to be sold off for housing.

And bosses have also bought a business unit for regeneration.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet has agreed to sell land in Tanfield Road, next to Stranton Cemetery, with the area being transformed into an estate.

They have also given officers permission to buy the long lease of the former Focus DIY unit, in Lynn Street, which could be turned into a council depot.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “We need to be entrepreneurial rather than just selling stuff off and seeing the town get worse and then having to spend fortunes regenerating the area.”

Over the last years, the three-acre Tanfield Road site has been put to various uses, including plant cultivation for the nursery and parks, storage for vehicles and equipment and parking for graveyard and parks and countryside staff.

There are currently a number of buildings on the land, including greenhouses, which could be moved to the nursery site.

Council officers say the other buildings there are old and of poor quality – with reinvestment of £100,000 needed to get the site up to scratch.

The Lynn Street unit has not been used by Focus since 2006 although it has been occupied by a charity, Computers for Africa, in recent years.

Hartlepool Borough Council owns the land surrounding it and officers say they could combine it with the current Lynn Street depot to create a larger mixed use development.

Alternatively it could be used for a residential, office and business-style development to help regenerate that part of town.

Another option is for parks and countryside staff from the Tanfield Road site to relocate there at a cost of £100,000.

Officers say it would cost £40,000 for electrical improvements, £10,000 for water and heating systems and £50,000 for work to the building.

Dave Stubbs, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said the Lynn Street building is “ideal” for council use.

He added: “The rent the leaseholders will achieve over four years is what we would probably pay for it. It’s a very good deal.

“The price we are proposing is less than two thirds of what they originally wanted.

“There is a question over why we would rush into this when we don’t have the money, but the condition of Tanfield Road is deplorable.

“We have to spend this money somewhere.”

There are also plans to expand and improve the retail side of the Tanfield Nursery with the possible addition of a new cafe.