Funding for the demolition of former factory outlet Jacksons Landing has been approved by councillors.
The decision to knock down the building bought by Hartlepool Borough Council for £1.5million in 2013 was taken at a heated meeting on Friday.
Yesterday, the council’s Finance and Policy Committee approved the use of £40,000 of council funds to pay for the demolition works.
The money, which the council had no budget for, had been recommended to be funded from money set aside to pay back the Local Government Fund interest free loan.
It would have resulted in a small increase in future borrowing costs if proceeds from the eventual sale do not cover the costs incurred of buying and demolishing the building.
But committee chair Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, instead proposed for the £40,000 to come from a £91,000 pot of uncommitted money from last year’s budget.
He said: “I don’t really want to recommend that we change the cash backing of Jacksons Landing down from 83% to 81% given that we already have £91,000 uncommitted from the favourable outturn.”
The decision to spend taxpayers’ money to demolish the building led to criticism from some councillors.
Council officers said clearing the site provides the best chance of a developer coming in and revamping it.
Denise Ogden, director of regeneration and neighbourhoods said in a report: “The development of Jacksons Landing is a key part of the Masterplan and demolition of the site rather than renovation of the existing building is considered necessary to realise the full transformational potential.
“The objective is for the site to become a landmark visitor attraction complemented by other attractions that will change people’s perception of the area.”
Coun Paul Thompson, who opposed the demolition, said: “Can I just ask for absolute clarification that in the last three years no developer has come forward who has looked to put a leisure retail scheme there using the existing building?”
Ms Ogden said: “Not that I’m aware of.”
Coun Thompson added the organisers of Hartlepool Folk Festival at the Hartlepool Maritime Experience in October have asked for consideration over the times the demolition work is carried out.
Work is expected to begin shortly after the We Are Family music event at Jacksons Landing on September 10.
The funding was approved but councillors Thompson and Shane Moore voted against it.
The final decision will go to Full Council on September 8.