Good turnout for masterplan

MORE than 100 football fans and local residents attended a meeting to learn more about ambitious proposals to create “world class” facilities in Hartlepool.

The meeting held at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park gave people the chance to quiz project leaders of the Mill House Master Plan which could generate £90m to the local economy.

Representatives from Gus Robinson Developments, Hartlepool Borough Council and Hartlepool United revealed the work going on behind the scenes and answered people’s questions.

Damian Southworth, development consultant at Gus Robinson Developments, presented five different options for the area comprising of £35m of development in Mill House including new housing, leisure and community facilities and a hotel within the shadow of Victoria Park.

The football ground also wants to extend its away end to generate more money and develop its community and education facilities.

Talks over the possible transfer of the ground from Hartlepool Borough Council to owners IOR are taking place and a decision is due to be made by councillors at a later date.

Mr Southworth said the project was “unique” because of the level of local involvement from the football club, businesses, colleges and residents.

But he said: “If the football club is not involved I seriously worry whether the development can work.”

Russ Green, Pools’ chief executive, said: “We have got to move forward and make money off the field and if you can do it with a community aspect, all the better.”

Damien Wilson, regeneration officer at the council, said: “We are working as a team to make sure we present the best opportunity, but ultimately it is going to be down to the viability of whether all this can be developed or just some parts.”

Councillors Geoff Lilley and Jonathan Brash were among the audience held in the Centenary Lounge last night.

The meeting was arranged by the Mill House Area Action Group and urged people to show their support for the plan.

Afterwards, Kevin McElhone, chairman of the group, said: “I’m really pleased. There was some nitty-gritty questions that needed to be asked and they got answered.”

Before the meeting, people took a tour of Victoria Park and got to see recent improvements and its education and community facilities.