New role for former DIY store

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PLANS to turn a former DIY store into a horticultural depot for council staff and vehicles have been approved.

Hartlepool Borough Council is moving its horticultural department including vehicles, equipment and materials from Stranton Cemetery to the former Focus DIY unit, in Lynn Street.

The large warehouse is next to the council-run Lynn Street Depot and officers say the relocation plans will improve efficiency and boost security.

The plans were agreed at a recent meeting of the council’s planning committee.

A report to the planning meeting said: “This will greatly improve efficiency of operations due to the proximity of the existing main Hartlepool Borough Council works depot, ensuring that vehicle and equipment refuelling, cleaning and maintenance no longer requires significant cross-town movement of vehicles.

“The facility will also provide valuable internal storage for vehicles, equipment and materials to improve security and longevity.”

The council recently bought the long lease of the warehouse, which has not been used by Focus since 2006 but it has been used by a charity, Computers for Africa, in recent years.

There were no objections from residents ahead of the meeting and councillors unanimously backed the plans.

The new depot is set back from Lynn Street itself and officers say there will be improvement works to the surface of the car park and landscaped areas.

The main entrance will be from Reed Street and the existing fence will be replaced to boost security and a new gate installed.

As previously reported, moving the parks and countryside staff will cost about £100,000.

Officers say it will cost £40,000 for electrical improvements, £10,000 for water and heating systems and £50,000 for work to the building.

It is part of wider plans which will see the council-owned land next to Stranton Cemetery, in Tanfield Road, which used to house the horticultural equipment sold for housing.

Over the years, the three-acre Tanfield Road site has been put to various uses, including plant cultivation for the nursery and parks, storage for vehicles and equipment and parking for graveyard and parks and countryside staff.

Stranton Nursery, on the other side of the road, will continue to operate as normal.

At the same planning meeting, councillors agreed plans to open a cafe in the adjacent Stranton Cemetery Lodge building, as previously reported.