Mill House masterplan

NOW that the elections are over and the dust is beginning to settle, discussions will take place about the delivery of the Mill House masterplan.

The plan was approved at the end of March by the cabinet and it sets out the potential for some really exciting development and regeneration in the Mill House area of town.

I am delighted that a number of the town’s most prominent organisations have also signed up to the plan and are keen to play a part in the delivery of the vision.

Both the Cleveland College of Art and Design and the Hartlepool College of Further Education are keen to be involved with the former looking to expand its offer of higher education courses in Hartlepool, which will bring with it the need for student accommodation, and College of FE interested in improving its sports facilities.

Two of Hartlepool’s best known companies are also signed up to the plan. Gus Robinson Developments has been selected as the preferred developer for the site and Cameron’s Brewery is potentially interested in improving its leisure offer on the site.

The masterplan could also provide a solution to the long-standing issue of the ground sale to Hartlepool United. Councillors will make the decision on the transfer of the land to the club and following this, the club are looking to build a new stand on the rink end which will incorporate community and leisure facilities and possibly even a hotel.

In the longer term, we will be looking to replace the Mill House leisure centre. The swimming pool in particular only has a few years left of its life and it is already getting really expensive to repair and maintain each year.

I’m hoping that the Government will make some Olympic legacy funding available for local sports facilities after the Olympics and, if so, we will definitely be bidding. If not, will have to come up with other creative ways of bringing in funding but the delivery model of the masterplan will put us in a strong position and be attractive to potential funders.

We will also be looking to find a solution for the eyesore that is the former Odeon cinema. The masterplan will allow us to commence compulsory purchase proceedings which will make it a lot easier to find a way of bringing the edifice back into use. A little bit on housing on the site will help fund some of the developments.

I, for one, am extremely excited about the prospects for the Mill House area. At a time when the world is coming to an end economically if you believe everything you hear on the news, it is especially encouraging that local businesses and organisations are getting together to solve our own problems by investing local money and employing local people along the way.

Incidentally, congratulations to Hartlepool United for another relatively successful season which was a club record fifth consecutive season in League One.

You only have to look a few miles down the road at our rivals Darlington’s recent plight to see what a devasting effect it can have on a town if the football club is poorly run.

They will even have to play their home games at Shildon next season. We are extremely lucky that the club’s owner, IOR, over its 13 years’ tenure’ has gradually invested and built what is now a flourishing community club.

The recent economic impact assessment shows just how important the club is to the economy of Hartlepool.

Finally, well done to all the smurfs who went to Charlton for the last game of the season. The publicity and profile that you have generated for Hartlepool has been magnificent and the recent letters in the Mail bear this out.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the game but I’m certainly tempted next season. It’s been a while since I last dressed up for a football match!