The future of an empty seafront building branded a blight to Seaton Carew will be decided by a Government minister following a public inquiry.
Hartlepool Borough Council is trying to obtain a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to force through the sale of the Longscar Centre.
The council wants to demolish the privately owned building which has been unused for at least six years as part of its wider regeneration plans under the Seaton Carew Masterplan.
The last Full Council meeting heard that a public inquiry will be held on the CPO later this year by a planning inspector with a final decision being made by Greg Clark, Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government.
It is because objections have been made over the council’s CPO bid.
Peter Devlin, chief solicitor of the council, said: “Objections were received and by virtue of that the Secretary can’t confirm the order.
“A public inquiry will be heard this year and we have to await the determination in due course, unless the council can move towards a voluntary acquisition which officers are endeavouring to do.”
The current position was given in response to a question from Seaton Carew resident Graeme Measor submitted to Councillor Kevin Cranney, who is chair of the council’s Regeneration Policy Committee.
Mr Measor asked for an anticipated completion date for the purchase saying “this has gone on for over a decade”.
Mr Devlin added: “It is a long, drawn out process, but we are moving as quickly as we can.”
The council made a resolution to seek a Compulsory Purchase Order on September 21 last year.
In November, a major revamp scheme of Seaton Carew’s seafront, which includes demolition of the Longscar Centre, won the backing of the council’s planning committee.
The scheme includes plans for the creation of new space for outdoor events and new play areas.
But at the meeting a spokesman for the Longscar’s owners said they have their own leisure plans for it and could be in place soon.
The agent added there had been interest from companies wanting to use it as a children’s soft play area, for bingo and an ice cream parlour.
The family set up Longsco Ltd in 2014 to refurbish the Longscar Centre and bring it back into use.