Hartlepool council bid to relaunch £4.5m mothballed centre

Councillors will discuss a proposal for the authority to take ownership of a mothballed £4.5m youth centre to see it reopen as a centre of excellence.

Friday, 24th March 2017, 5:19 pm
Updated Saturday, 25th March 2017, 10:59 am
The Northern Lights Academy on King Oswy Drive in Hartlepool Picture: DAVID WOOD

The state-of-the-art Northern Lights Academy in King Oswy Drive, Hartlepool, has stood empty for 18 months.

On Monday, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Finance and Policy Committee will be asked to give their approval for the council to own it.

The council aims to re-open the building by September for use by students aged 14 to 19 to gain qualifications and help put them on their chosen career path.

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Meeting papers state: “Once in HBC ownership it is proposed that NLA be used as a centre for excellence in technical training for the creative industries. The centre will target emerging technologies and industrial growth sectors, including digital media and creative industries, with a view to developing a supply of suitably skilled and capable young people to form the creative workforce of the future.

“The planned curriculum pathways accessed through NLA will also re-engage some young people for whom a traditional, fully academic diet is not appropriate.”

The academy opened in 2011 after the Headland Development Trust received a multi-million pound grant through the Big Lottery Fund Myplace Programme.

But Headland Development Trust closed in 2011 shortly before the academy officially opened.

The Diocese of Durham stepped in to take over the project but it became unsustainable for the diocese to manage the academy leading to its closure in September 2015.

The council took on a licence to maintain and secure the building which expires in August.

Meeting papers say if the council does not take over the building it could stay closed for the foreseeable future.

The council says the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Cabinet Office, which are now responsible for funding of Myspace projects, have been informed about the council’s plans and are agreeable.

The council report adds: “HBC has clearly stated that there is no intention of the Council becoming fully responsible for the original funding liabilities associated with the Myplace project.

“Both departments have indicated that they are willing to negotiate these liabilities in order to mitigate all associated risks for HBC.

“Following approval from members this will be formalised with both departments.”

Town schools and colleges are said to have welcomed the plans.

The Finance and Policy Committee meeting starts at 10am in the civic centre and is open to the public.