The go-ahead has been given for work to start on the landmark Hartlepool Waterfront regeneration project.
Hartlepool Borough Council planning committee unanimously approved proposals to start ‘phase one’ of the project, which includes the creation of a public realm area, lighting and street furniture.
Council bosses announced earlier this year it intended to transform the former Jacksons Landing site and surrounding area.
It is intended to provide enhanced leisure, recreation and tourism opportunities.
Council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “It’s fantastic news. It will be a catalyst for the site.
“For some time people have been saying something needs doing and the council has taken it upon themselves to take action.
“We’ve been having discussions over the events space, about the water activities hub, and with hoteliers.”
He added: “It is worth noting we purchased the land with government money available to us. Hopefully it will help stimulant a vibrant economy and tourism in the area.
“We’ve got that infrastructure in place for our public realm to help attract investors.”
The first phase will see the provision of a new hard and soft landscaped public realm which wraps around the southern and eastern water’s edge of the site.
It also includes a 4m wide pedestrian promenade, planting, seating and potential art installations and new lighting.
The council has allocated £1.4million for initial work on the project.
The long-term plan is to develop the Hartlepool Waterfront as a landmark destination with a mix of civic, cultural, leisure and visitor attractions.
It is predicted to create up to 275 jobs, plus a further 430 construction jobs, and also include a watersports activities hub, a new four star hotel, and a bigger National Museum of the Royal Navy.
This would complement the restaurants, cafes, bars and shops within the wider Hartlepool Marina area.
One letter of objection had been received to the plans raising concerns over parking, the lack of a cycle route and whether private enterprises would support the work.
However council bosses said this would be covered in future phases of work.
Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher praised how the work involves the listed Seaton Highlight, a former lighthouse, which is now a memorial to those who lost their lives at sea.
He said: “I’m really pleased to see where the highlight is, this is a memorial for all those who lost lives at sea, and it’s great now that the garden area has been done.
“It’s important that it’s treated as a proper memorial and we show it that respect.
“I’m pleased it’s been done in a tasteful manner.”
The site was previously home to Jackson’s Landing Factory Shopping Outlet from 1994 to 2004, and has subsequently been used as the venue for the Waterfront Festival, as well as a range of other events and activities.
Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service