COUNCILLORS have agreed in principle to relocate a local authority depot as part of major regeneration plans.
The proposals by Hartlepool Borough Council to relocate the Lynn Street depot elsewhere in town could result in Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) building new facilities on the site including teaching space and more student accommodation.
Plans are at an early stage and officers are working on joint proposals, but regeneration chiefs have described it as a “huge opportunity” for the town.
The college, based in Church Square, is poised for a £9.3m investment as part of plans to bring in more students from all over the country.
The council said the movement of vehicles in Lynn Street including refuse collection, grounds maintenance, heavy goods vehicles and heavy plant create an industrial feel to the area, which they believe is more suited to a centrally located industrial estate, elsewhere in the town.
They say the site could be suitable for retail, leisure and residential use or student halls of residence. The depot plans were discussed at a meeting of the finance and policy committee.
Denise Ogden, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “The report provides details of the CCAD plans to expand and develop their Church Square estate, further to the recent announcement that they have been awarded Local Growth Fund (LGF) monies.
“The report seeks committee approval to work together with CCAD to look at the feasibility of the college developing some of their new facilities on the depot site and the council identifying an alternative location for the depot facility.”
It was also stressed that council officers, CCAD staff and Tees Valley Unlimited had worked together to secure the funding for the college refurbishment plans.
Putting Hartlepool First councillor Geoff Lilley said the location for the new depot was very important, adding: “It needs to be thought about and taken into consideration.”
He added that council-owned land was the “long-term family silver” and said while the college would probably prefer to own the land, he said the local authority should consider a long-term lease.
Coun Lilley added: “Let’s hope we get it right. I’m sure we will come up with something.”
Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said he also shared the concerns about where the new depot would be based saying that was why there was a feasibility study.
Labour councillor Peter Jackson said: “This is a great opportunity for Hartlepool and the officers should be recognised for the work done with TVU and the college.”
The college has to begin the project by 2015-16 so the council needs to be in a position to act quickly.
Coun Akers-Belcher added: “I welcome this report and it is a huge coup for the town but the timescale is extremely challenging.
“I want a report back as soon as is possible about the options.”
Councillors on the finance and policy committee agreed in principle to the relocation of the Lynn Street depot to support the regeneration of the Church Street area.
That is subject to a review being carried out to identify alternative sites suitable to accommodate a new council depot facility and to authorise the development of a joint proposal with CCAD to prepare a masterplan for the depot site and carry out feasibility work.
A detailed business case for funding the relocation of the depot will need to be developed by officers at the local authority.
l HOPES for new home for mural: Page 10.