Plans approved for new Hartlepool virtual reality gaming centre

Plans have been approved for a new virtual reality gaming centre to launch in Hartlepool.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 7:38 am

Proposals were submitted to Hartlepool Borough Council planning department earlier this year from Alice House Hospice to open the centre in the town’s Park Road.

The plans stated the vacant site at Unit C in Park Tower would be converted into a virtual reality, computer technology, training and education Studio, to be called NEVRlabs.

A report from council planning officer Stephanie Bell confirmed the proposals have now been approved and work can commence, adding the development should benefit the area.

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The site of the upcoming Hartlepool virtual reality centre.
The site of the upcoming Hartlepool virtual reality centre.

She said: “The council’s regeneration section has been consulted and considers that the investment resulting from the proposal is welcome in the vicinity.

“It is considered that the principle of the proposed change of use to a virtual reality centre, computer technology, training and education studio is acceptable.

“Furthermore, the proposal would bring a vacant building back into use.”

The premises will allow selected groups to hire virtual reality simulators and computer suites in order to raise charitable funds, the sole recipient being Alice House Hospice.

The centre will offer the latest in virtual reality gaming technology.

Plans state the virtual reality and training centre would be able to open from 10am to 10pm, seven days a week.

The application site is a grade II listed building, however council planning chiefs ruled the proposals would have no negative impact on the listed building, Stranton Conservation Area where it is located, or street scene.

The building was previously occupied by a hospice, however its last known use is as an office space and is currently vacant.

The plans came after earlier this year Alice House chiefs decided they needed to find fresh and innovative ways of raising money due to the impact of Covid-19.

Speaking to the Hartlepool Mail in April, Alice House chief executive Tracy Woodall said: “We are very excited at this opportunity. Hospices are under significant financial pressure and we have to be able to adapt in order to survive.

As well as providing a fun experience for customers of all ages, NEVRlabs will also use gaming and virtual reality to support mental and physical health and social inclusion.

They will do this through using tech clubs and local competitive video gaming team development.

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