Plans for ‘innovative box park’ in Hartlepool at risk over proposals for Aldi to move sites

Plans for an ‘innovative box park’ at a retail park in Hartlepool are at risk of being scrapped if proposals for Aldi to move sites goes ahead, it has been claimed.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 12th December 2019, 11:10 am

Earlier this year plans from Mason Partners LLP were approved for an innovative ‘box park’ using shipping containers at Tees Bay Retail Park.

Plans stated the containers would be used for retail purposes and could provide up to 40 jobs for the area.

However bosses behind the plans now say the development could be in jeopardy due to proposals from Aldi to move its store from the retail park to a new larger site to the south-west of the Stag & Monkey public house off Brenda Road.

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Artists impression of the box park development
Artists impression of the box park development

Aldi bosses have said the current store is ‘outdated and too small’ and there is ‘more than sufficient’ retail capacity to support the new store and the existing Tees Bay Retail Park.

However Planning House, agents on behalf of Mason Partners LLP, have disputed this, claiming it could prevent investment in the retail park and harm a retail centre, and is therefore against planning policy.

A letter of objection has been submitted to the council from Helen Heward at Planning House raising concerns to the plans and the jeopardy it puts the box park in.

She said: “As a result of the evolution of the retail market we were delighted that the council supported an innovative container scheme within the park to target local based operations and build upon the success and traffic flow associated with the park.

Artists impression of the new Aldi building

“If Aldi (and other similar) vacate the park, investments such as delivering the container park become unviable and the park in all likelihood will become involved in a negative cycle with further voids appearing and jobs being lost across the estate.

“Ultimately it is highly likely that this would detract from the offer of the retail park having a negative impact upon the overall character and attractiveness to shoppers.

“This vacant unit would directly affect the vitality and viability of the retail park despite recent efforts to improve the area.”

Aldi bosses have said the proposed move will benefit the area and provide a new and improved store for the town, having held a consultation over the plans before submitting them.

An Aldi spokesperson said: “Our proposals for a new store at Brenda Road would replace Aldi’s outdated store, which we have operated at Tees Bay Retail Park for 27 years and is now too small for our needs.

“The planning application demonstrates that there is more than sufficient retail capacity to support a new store without having a detrimental impact on Tees Bay Retail Park.

“With 93% support for our new store from the local community, we very much look forward to presenting our proposals to Hartlepool Borough Council’s Planning Committee in the new year.”