A civic chief says projects to regenerate Hartlepool’s retail sector are working.
Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, vice chair of the council’s Regeneration Services Committee, said the Hartlepool Masterplan and Vision initiatives were starting to see results.
He was responding to a question by Coun David Riddle who said according to data the vacancy rate in the town centre reduced slightly year on year from 12.3% to 11.9%.
Coun Riddle said: “Although this is a slight reduction of 0.4% the vacancy rate remains high when compared to national averages.” He asked what strategies the council’s regeneration committee had to help increase occupancy rates.
Coun Akers-Belcher said the Hartlepool Masterplan identified the town centre as a key site adding: “The council have a substantial outline local growth bid to support private sector investment within the town centre.
“Middleton Grange has been purchased by Mars Pension Fund who are currently developing a multi-million pound investment programme that will transform the centre.
“The former M&S has now been refurbished for new let and the upper floor has been identified as leisure use.”
Coun Akers-Belcher added a number of businesses are interested in locating to the Vision Retail Park near the marina which is undergoing a multi-million refurbishment.
Regarding the Vision project he said: “It’s clearly working that people are now recognising that Hartlepool is open for business.”
Coun Paul Thompson welcomed new business arrivals but issued a plea for support for small businesses too.