Lodge to be re-marketed

The Ward Jackson Park lodge for sale. Picture by FRANK REID
The Ward Jackson Park lodge for sale. Picture by FRANK REID

A HISTORIC lodge is to be re-marketed for sale as a residential property as soon as council officers secure planning consent.

Hartlepool Borough Council is planning to sell the former park keeper’s lodge, which stands at the corner of Ward Jackson Park, in Elwick Road, to raise much-needed cash.

The two-storey Grade II listed property, which dates back to 1883 and lies in the Park Conservation Area, has not been occupied for a number of years.

Last year the council opened a tender for open offers and invited bids, but three bids were rejected for being too low.

Independent councillor Paul Thompson, portfolio holder for finance and corporate services, instead called for an “all options” report to come back to him in the new year and he has now agreed for the lodge to be re-marketed once the council has secured planning permission for a residential property, with new access from Elwick Road.

Coun Thompson was told it would take around eight weeks to go through the planning process and if consent was approved then officers would re-market the property.

It could therefore take a minimum of four months before it is sold.

Coun Thompson asked officers to market it for offers in the region of a figure, rather than an open tender inviting bids.

He said: “I was very clear when this came before me previously that I would prefer to sell this building and use it for a residential home.

“I would like us to be very clear about what this property can be used for and then put it out to market.

“I would like to go on your recommendation to remarket the property with planning consent.”

Available options included re-marketing the two-bedroom Lodge, leasing it to a third party or transferring the building to a group for community use.

The council had received an approach from The History of Hartlepool in Images group who were interested in the building being transferred under the Community Asset Transfer policy.

Officers met with the group and John Mennear, assistant director of community services, said members were “very enthusiastic”.

But concerns were raised the group’s constitution was “inadequate” to comply with the policy requirements and officers said there is a need for the group to “demonstrate long-term sustainability”.

The building would also need to have disabled access if it was to be opened up to the public for community use.

Graham Frankland, assistant director of resources, said: “The conclusion was that we should encourage the group as they came up with some good points.

“They could be involved in other initiatives.”

Over the next four years, the council is looking to slash between £17m and £20m from its £90m revenue budget to balance the books due to cuts in public sector funding and the sale of the Lodge will help towards that,