'Too many shops' claim as masterplan approved for Hartlepool town centre

A new masterplan for Hartlepool should help the area become “more than the sum of its parts” and guide the development of retail, leisure and residential offerings in the town centre.

Monday, 15th November 2021, 5:30 pm
Hopes are high for Hartlepool town centre.

Hartlepool Borough Council Finance and Policy Committee on Monday, November 15, approved a new town centre masterplan, aiming to set out a long term framework for the future.

Officers said this will help “renew and reshape the physical environment to ensure sustainable growth in skills, jobs, accessibility and connectivity”.

Cllr Shane Moore, Hartlepool Borough Council leader, said the town centre has to be developed to meet the change in demands of residents, such as incorporating leisure and retail offers.

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He said: “Town centres change, they’re not just places for retail anymore.

“We have to recognise that there’s often a criticism that there’s too many empty shops, personally I’d argue that there’s just too many shops in Hartlepool now.”

The masterplan process identified four key zones for change, around Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, Church Street, the Waterfront and the area surrounding Mill House Leisure Centre and Victoria Park.

The plan details three “big moves to redefine the heart of the town”, including the reimagining of Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, and “redevelopment, connectivity and public realm enhancements” to the Waterfront, along with numerous “ripple effects”.

Cllr Brenda Harrison added they need to learn from the past and look to the future in aiming to attract visitors to the town centre.

“Lynn Street was a buzzing community where people did more than just go shopping,” she said.

“People from Harlepool tend to go to Middlesbrough, Billingham, Sunderland, Durham. We need people to come here from the rest of the Tees Valley and from the north.”

Cllr Mike Young also praised the masterplan, adding a lot of the projects should be deliverable as part of the successful £25million Town Deal bid.

Denise McGuckin, council managing director, added in the near future they will be receiving feedback on their unsuccessful Levelling Up Fund bid, ahead of looking at what projects will form a second application in the spring.

She said: “Once we’ve got that, we’ll be in an ideal opportunity to sit down and reflect on that feedback and see where our priorities should be.

“The ultimate aim is for Hartlepool to be a whole more than the sum of the parts.”

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