'Game changer' - Hartlepool welcomes £25m of new funding to transform the town
Confirmation that Hartlepool has succeeded in a bid for £25m to transform the town has been described as “a game changer”.
The Hartlepool Town Deal Board – made up of a wealth of individuals and organisations – learned on Tuesday that its application for the cash from the Government’s £3.6 billion Towns Deal fund had been approved.
Development proposals include further town centre regeneration – such as “the re-imagining” of the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre “to create a clearly-defined mixed heart for the town centre” - plus connectivity improvements to better link the marina, town centre and railway station.
The fortunes of the derelict former Wesley Chapel building – which has planning permission to be turned into a 36-bed hotel – could also be transformed thanks to the money.
Health and civil engineering training institutes may also be enhanced or created to enable local people to develop new skills.
Work on developing the final projects will begin shortly with all improvements expected to be completed by 2026.
Independent councillor Shane Moore, the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council which is one of the member organisations on the board, said after Tuesday’s announcement: “To get the full amount that we bid for is tremendous news and means that we are now able to press ahead with our ambitious plans.
“The Town Deal is a real game changer in terms of shaping the town’s future and its importance cannot be overstated.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has played a part in securing this money. Their hard work and commitment to the town is much appreciated.”
Independent councillor Paddy Brown, chair of the council’s economic growth and regeneration committee, added: “The impact of the proposed developments in their own right will be huge, but they will also act as a catalyst for further investment in the town.”
As part of the process of securing a Town Deal, a Town Investment Plan setting out proposed developments and how they would be delivered within a five-year period was drafted.
Work on this was carried out throughout 2020 – a very challenging time due to the pandemic - and submitted to the Government at the end of January.
The whole process was led by the board - which is chaired by local businessman Alby Pattison and comprising representatives of the local public, private and voluntary sectors - and shaped by consultation with the local community.
Now that the Town Deal has been approved, work will begin in earnest to develop projects in more detail with further input from local residents seen as vital.
Mr Pattison said: “During the development of the Town Investment Plan, the consultation process was well supported by local people and businesses, a factor which undoubtedly helped us to secure the £25 million.
"I’d like to thank everyone for their invaluable contributions and would urge them to stay involved. We will be providing more details of how they can do that in due course.”
New Hartlepool Conservative MP Jill Mortimer, who became a board member after her by-election victory last month, and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen have also welcomed the announcemen t.