Vision to make Hartlepool 'proud and productive town where aspiration and creativity are valued'

Developing the Wesley Chapel site, re-imagining Middleton Grange Shopping Centre and improving connectivity around the Marina are all being lined up as projects to benefit as part of a national funding bid.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 1:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st January 2021, 10:00 am

A Town Investment Plan will be submitted to Government as part of the bid later this month, with five projects lined as priorities for investment.

A report from the council’s assistant director for development and growth is to go before the regeneration services committee on Wednesday outlining the projects.

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The Hartlepool Town Investment Plan includes proposals for the Wesley, Middleton Grange shopping centre, marina and a new training academy at Hartlepool hospital.

These include establishing a new training facility within University Hospital of Hartlepool, to be developed, owned and operated by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with Hartlepool College of Further Education.

The Health and Care Centre of Excellence would be a ‘start of the art facility’ and ‘one of only a handful in the country’ of its kind.

Another project involves developing the Tees Valley Civil Engineering Institute project, which proposes investment in the consolidation and growth of teaching and training capacity at two existing sites, to ‘enhance and future-proof facilities’.

The sites include the Hartlepool College of Further Education Exeter Street Annex and the Seymour Skills Academy in Brenda Road, an 11-acre ‘real world’ training ground with teaching facilities which opened in 2019.

The former Wesley church and nightclub was badly damaged by fire in 2017.

Another project includes helping to develop the Wesley Chapel, which was extensively damaged by fire in 2017, and has planning permission in place for a 36-bedroom boutique hotel with a bar-restaurant.

The Town Investment Plan investment proposition is to fund the ‘development viability gap’ to enable the developer and operator to commit to delivering the project by the end of 2022.

The fourth project involves improving connections around the Marina, including public realm and connectivity enhancements in order to ‘realise the potential’ of the area.

A re-imagining of Middleton Grange shopping centre includes more mixed use to keep it at the heart of the town centre. Picture by FRANK REID

The vision for the Marina circuit is for a high quality, ‘seamless’ public realm linking a number of key vibrant public spaces which activate the waterfront, according to the report.

The final project listed involves re-imagining Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, with the potential funding from the Towns Fund earmarked to ‘deliver a first phase of activity that starts to deliver transformational change within the area’.

The report notes however other projects could still form part of the Town Centre Masterplan and be part of future funding bids, it just means that it will not be included within the current submission to Government.

The report said: “The Town Investment Plan sets out the Town Deal Board’s vision for the future of Hartlepool.

“The vision is based upon Hartlepool becoming an inclusive, proud and productive town where aspiration and creativity are valued.

“A town which supports and welcomes visitors, learners and innovative businesses; where people are inspired and enabled to get more out of their work and investment, which promotes itself with pride and makes its mark in the wider world.”

The investment plan has been drawn up after work from the Hartlepool Town Deal Board, which was established in January 2020, and is made up of councillors, the MP and various organisations and businesses throughout the town.

The Town Investment Plan, according to the report, identifies three legacy challenges to overcome for the town to prosper: jobs, social mobility and social constraints and a ‘disconnected central area’.

If accepted by the regeneration services committee when they meet on January 20, the plan will then go before the finance and policy committee, before being sent to Government ministers to make a decision.

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