Work to restore historic amphitheatre into amazing new venue at Hartlepool seafront paused - but it has nothing to do with coronavirus

An artist's impression of the restored amphitheatre.An artist's impression of the restored amphitheatre.
An artist's impression of the restored amphitheatre.
Restoration work to one of Hartlepool’s most valuable cultural sites has been paused to protect feeding seabirds.

Hartlepool Borough Council has decided to put back the start of work at the Headland Amphitheatre by six months until spring to avoid disturbing to internationally-important wildlife.

Located on the promenade to north of the Heugh Battery Museum, the amphitheatre is viewed as one of the town’s most valuable cultural assets.

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Photographs dating back to the early 1900s indicate it was used for a range of public events, community celebrations and entertainment with seating built in to the retaining wall, a Victorian bandstand and a café.

The area as it looks now.The area as it looks now.
The area as it looks now.

The restoration scheme involves recreating a space for public events including constructing a new retaining wall and replacing stepped seats around a feature paved area.

Once complete, the amphitheatre will accommodate around 500 spectators.

But the rocky low tide foreshore beyond the promenade railings is recognised as being important for bird species such as cormorant, curlew, knot, oystercatcher, purple sandpiper, redshank, sanderling and turnstone.

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Council leader Cllr Shane Moore, who is also a Headland and Harbour Ward councillor, said: “Planning permission has now been granted for the restoration of the bandstand and we were hoping to start work on site this year.

“However, we recognise the importance of the surrounding area as a winter feeding ground for various species of seabird, so given the time of year we have decided to postpone the on-site element of the scheme until 2021 to minimise the impact of the works on them.

“Whilst it is a little disappointing that we are going to have wait a while longer to see this exciting project come to fruition, this is the right thing to do and the decision to postpone the start of work on site demonstrates the Council’s commitment to protecting the town’s natural environment.”

Off-site work including the manufacture of pre-cast sections of the new structure will take place in the meantime.

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The amphitheatre is one of a number of cultural assets that will be restored or refurbished in the town with funding from a range of sources, including the council, Tees Valley Combined Authority and other partners.

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