Plans approved for new Hartlepool leisure centre at Waterfront site
Councillors have unanimously agreed to plans to replace Hartlepool’s Mill House Leisure Centre with a new ‘bespoke’ site on the Waterfront.
The move comes as part of a multi-million pound investment in the town’s leisure facilities planned by Hartlepool Borough Council.
The principle development will see the ageing Mill House Leisure Centre on Raby Road demolished and a replacement built on the former Jackson’s Landing site.
The new site will feature three swimming pools, a health suite, fitness studios, gym, family play facility, cafe/refreshments area and function rooms.
The strategy also includes investment and improvements to Brierton Sports Centre, Headland Sports Hall, Grayfields Recreation Ground and Pavilion, and Hartlepool Indoor Bowls Club.
The proposals were unanimously approved by councillors on the council Finance and Policy Committee.
Coun Shane Moore, council leader and chair of the committee, said: “I think this report and these proposals bring a fantastic opportunity for the people of Hartlepool.
“We have a current centre which is getting to the end of it’s useful life and we get complaints about the state of many of the facilities on a regular basis.
“We have the opportunity for the first time, and the funding in place more importantly, to finally deliver on a 21st century leisure facility for the people of Hartlepool.”
Council chiefs added they hope the new Waterfront leisure development will open in 2024 and attract visitors from in and out of town along with tourists, with a large car park planned.
The ‘bespoke leisure attraction’ would also offer integration and access to other services planned as part of the regeneration of the Waterfront site.
Coun Paddy Brown, leader of the opposition on the council, said: “I’m fully in support, it’s very exciting, the location is superb, the fact that it brings it together with the on-water sport, I’m just absolutely delighted with what’s to come for this.”
The bulk of the funding for the schemes will come from the council’s capital investment programme which includes significant sums of money provided by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
Other options looked at included refurbishing the existing Mill House centre and to integrate leisure facilities into a redeveloped Mill House Stand at Victoria Park, but the Waterfront offer was recommended as the number one choice by council officers.
The proposals were developed following an eight-week period of public consultation last year.
The plans will include demolishing Mill House Leisure Centre once the new Waterfront site is open, with the existing leisure centre remaining open until then.
Coun Carl Richardson issued a plea to ensure thought is put in to how best to develop the land once it becomes vacant.
He said: “I’d like to make a plea that we redevelop the Mill House site, I do think this can be an exciting project, but we have to get it right.
“If we don’t redevelop the Mill House site I think there will be a knock on effect on the surrounding areas.”
Council chief executive Gill Alexander said the Mill House site will not remain derelict and will be a ‘key strategic site’ in the next stage of development for the town.
Other leisure improvement proposals agreed as part of the plan, which will be subject to further public consultation and development, include:
Brierton Sports Centre
The centre is to be rebranded as Brierton Sports Complex with a focus on outdoor facilities, including improvements to the tennis courts and the installation of floodlighting.
Around two acres of surplus land will be sold for development, with the proceeds being used to fund some of the redevelopment costs.
Headland Sports Hall
It is proposed to sub-divide the existing sports hall to increase community use and enable the facility to break-even or make a profit.
Hartlepool Indoor Bowls Club
The council says the estimated cost of building a new stand-alone facility means it is not a viable option. It is proposed to improve the existing building which opened in 1972, and agree a new lease with Hartlepool Indoor Bowls Association.
Grayfields Recreation Ground and Pavilion
It is proposed to improve the site and reinstate the artificial grass pitch before advertising the opportunity for a community asset transfer to an external organisation.