Why Shades development in Hartlepool's Church Street was chosen for boost from £1million fund
Councillors have praised plans to use a £1million Government funding boost for Hartlepool to carry out improvements around the historic Shades site.
The grant is accelerated funding from the Government’s £3.6billion Towns Fund, which aims to ‘unleash the economic success of towns and high streets’ across the country.
The £1million grant allocated to Hartlepool must be spent by the end of the current financial year, meaning only ‘shovel-ready’ projects that align with the Towns Fund eligibility framework could be considered.
Councillors on Hartlepool Borough Council Finance and Policy Committee on October 19 unanimously approved recommendations to use the funding to continue the renovation of Church Street.
This will include carrying out work on the former Shades site, along with the adjacent 15 Church Street, previously known as Mamma Mia’s, which is to be renovated and converted into two flats and a shop or cafe.
Cllr Shane Moore, council leader, said there was a limited number of projects the funds could be spent on, and the proposals had the backing of the Town Deal Board.
He said: “I know there may be some members, and I know there are certainly some members of the public, who would have potentially preferred this money to be spent elsewhere.
“The limitation on this was these projects needed to be completed by the end of this financial year and there was only a very limited number of projects that could have been brought forward.
“These were taken to the Town Deal Board, made up of local business owners and residents and other interested parties, who have also agreed this would be the best project to take forward at this point.”
Cllr Sue Little also stressed how the money being used is Government grant funding and is not from the ‘council coffers’.
The former Shades Hotel is a Grade II-Listed building, which is identified on Historic England’s “at risk” register.
The accelerated Towns Fund cash is to be used on structural works, a new roof to halt the deterioration of the building through water ingress, and works to improve the external appearance of the building.
This will reduce future grant funding requirements, therefore increasing the viability of bringing the building back into a long term productive use, according to council officers.
Cllr Christopher Akers-Belcher praised the schemes, but added he was disappointed in the time taken for the projects to come forward, noting they had initially approved the 15 Church Street conversion in March 2019.
He said: “I think it’s an excellent scheme, I sit on the Towns Fund Board, and I think they would welcome the investment.
“We made a decision with regards to one of the properties going back to March 2019 and I would just like to express my disappointment that it has taken so long to get to this point where we can accelerate investment into Church Street.
“We made a decision where we were going to accelerate money into that area in order to boost the local economy and it hasn’t happened, I understand the reasons why, but that should have been articulated to committee members.”