'Exciting and hopeful time' for Hartlepool says Government minister during town visit
The Communities Secretary has declared it is “a very exciting and hopeful time” for Hartlepool after welcoming £25 million of funding to transform the town.
Earlier this week it was revealed Hartlepool’s application for the cash from the Government’s £3.6billion Towns Deal fund had been approved.
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick visited Hartlepool on Friday to see how the money will be spent.
Proposals include the “re-imagining” of Middleton Grange Shopping Centre to create “a clearly-defined mixed heart for the town centre”.
They also include connectivity improvements to better link the Marina, town centre and railway station along with developing the Wesley Chapel site into a boutique hotel.
Mr Jenrick said: “I think this is a very exciting and hopeful time for the town to see £25 million of investment coming through the town’s fund, and for really important projects.
“The first thing I really saw of the town centre was the Wesley Chapel and obviously it’s a very beautiful and historic building, but in a really poor condition.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my lifetime in which there has been such a sense of optimism and positivity about the border area, with so much investment flowing.”
He added the funding gives Hartlepool the capital to “get going as quickly as possible” with plans to rethink their town centre to benefit generations to come.
Projects are expected to be completed by 2026.
Cllr Shane Moore, the independent leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said the reality is there are just “too many shops in the town centre for retail these days”.
He added: “It’s about changing that mix and making sure that it’s not just retail orientated anymore and mixing it up into leisure and living and social as well.”
Other projects include developing health and civil engineering training institutes to enabling people to develop new skills.
Hartlepool MP Conservative Jill Mortimer said the education initiatives were a key to the “fantastic” proposals.
She added: “That’s the future, it’s not only creating the jobs for our young people, it’s equipping them with the skills to do them, and it’s retaining them in their hometown.
“I want them to stay here, live here, have great jobs here, raise their families here and keep the soul in Hartlepool.”