Councillor’s plea over Hartlepool’s eyesore buildings

EYESORE: The Longscar Centre.
EYESORE: The Longscar Centre.

A COUNCILLOR has called on the Government to make it easier for local authorities to buy up eyesore buildings.

Coun Robbie Payne, who heads Hartlepool Borough Council’s regeneration services committee, issued the plea during a debate when councillors were updated on the former Longscar Hall building at Seaton Carew.

The council has started work on a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) but says negotiations will continue with the owner to try to agree a sale.

The redevelopment of the derelict Longscar Hall site is said by the council to be key to its regeneration plans for Seaton Front.

The council says it has made a fair offer for the premises but if necessary will consider the use of CPO powers.

Councillor Payne said: “It is extremely frustrating that the CPO process is a very long and drawn out affair.

“I really do think it is time that Central Government provided more support for councils so that they are provided with the tools and powers to bring about a speedy resolution of eyesore buildings like the former Longscar Hall.

“We will eventually arrive at a solution for the building but things could be so much easier if there wasn’t so much red tape and the Council could just get on and sort it out.”

The council’s Finance and Policy Committee agreed to write to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to voice their concerns over the CPO process.

Denise Ogden, director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said in a report: “The building has been vacant for a number of years and the dereliction is having a negative impact on the attractiveness of the resort and the wellbeing of the local residents.

“The council is working in conjunction with its development partner Esh to produce a viable, deliverable and attractive scheme that will increase the number of visitors to Seaton Carew thereby helping to support the local economy and existing businesses.

“The inclusion of the former Longscar Hall building is key to the success of any regeneration scheme for The Front.

“Esh have now developed draft regeneration proposals for The Front that include the clearance of the Longscar building, the provision of new play facilities and improvements to the public realm to tie in with the newly developed promenade and sea wall.”

The improvements will be funded from proceeds of the sale of new housing sites in Seaton.

Seaton Carew resident Graeme Measor took this picture of rubbish that has collected in the grounds of the Longscar Centre which was formerly Coasters night spot.

Mr Measor, who has previously called on the council to take action, said: “It only takes a discarded cigarette and the whole lot could go up in flames.

“I am disappointed at the lack of progress on this eyesore building which is attracting vandals and arsonists.”