Hartlepool museum plans 'unique and exciting' expansion

Plans have been lodged for an expansion of Hartlepool’s National Museum of the Royal Navy into a nearby retail park

By Nic Marko
Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 11:08 am
Hartlepool's National Museum of the Royal Navy could expand into the nearby Vision Retail Park. Picture by FRANK REID.
Hartlepool's National Museum of the Royal Navy could expand into the nearby Vision Retail Park. Picture by FRANK REID.

Proposals have been submitted to Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning department to convert vacant units at Vision Retail Park, on The Highlight, to be used as part of the neighbouring museum’s expansion.

Submitted by National Museum of the Royal Navy’s (NMRN) Hartlepool bosses, plans state the land would be used for facilities such as galleries, exhibition spaces and heritage and interpretation workshop areas.

A planning statement from Wardell Armstrong, on behalf of the applicant, notes the museum expansion proposals will occupy vacant space in a prominent location, adding: “The proposals are necessary to improve and enhance the existing experience and to provide additional interest to the benefit of Hartlepool.

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“The proposals will have positive economic, environmental and social benefits for Hartlepool

“The development provides a unique and exciting opportunity for the town of Hartlepool.”

The primary activities taking place in the expanded museum site would include galleries and temporary exhibition spaces, such as touring displays, and activity space for experimental experiences.

Plans also state the site would have workshop areas for heritage restoration and interpretation purposes, along with education facilities and spaces, such as for STEM subjects.

The planning statement adds the development would provide a permanent home for the RML 497, a Second World War motor rescue launch, currently located in a temporary structure at the museum.

It said: “The NMRN Hartlepool is seeking to extend its offer and boost visitor numbers to the museum which will be of benefit to Hartlepool. Part of this vision includes the RML 497.

“As part of the NMRN Hartlepool Regeneration, phase one includes the provision of new space large enough to house RML 497.

“The land and building would act as an extension to the existing NMRN and an enhancement to the overall offer and interest.”

The proposals would also see the site offer a museum gift shop and catering, including coffee and tea stands and a “possible cafe”.

The plans relate to the proposed change of use of the land, with a subsequent application to be submitted with details of the design of the building and surrounding land.

A decision is expected to be made on the initial application by council planning chiefs in November.