‘World class’ Mill House master plan worth £90m to town economy

An artist impression of how the development could look
An artist impression of how the development could look

DEVELOPERS say ambitious plans to create “world class” facilities as part of a major regeneration project are worth £90m to the Hartlepool economy.

Daniel Robinson, chairman of Gus Robinson Developments (pictured below), has urged people to get behind the Mill House masterplan, which aims to bring new housing, community, business and leisure developments to that part of town.

Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson

A number of partners are included in the project, which includes the expansion of Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park ground.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Email the newsdesk or telephone the newsdesk on (01429) 239380.

Mr Robinson, whose town business is the preferred developer, told a public meeting last night: “I don’t see how anybody can say that this isn’t in the interests of Hartlepool.

“We have an opportunity to do this ourselves and it is about what is right for the town.”

The huge financial impact was revealed at the meeting of the Mill House Area Action Group (MHAAG), held at the Mill House Pub.

The plan could also see land at Victoria Park, owned by the council and valued at £625,000, transferred to the club for free as part of the wider regeneration plans.

Around 60 people packed into the pub to hear the plans which include:

● Up to 70 new houses plus student accommodation.

● Replacing the Mill House Leisure Centre with a new three-storey leisure complex incorporating a swimming pool and new bowls club.

● New outdoor sport facilities and a “green corridor” linking Raby Road and Clarence Road.

● A new 3,000-seat stand at Victoria Park’s away end. The stand could include a hotel with rooms overlooking the pitch.

Developers say the total investment in the Mill House masterplan would be around £37m, which would create £90m of “economic activity” in Hartlepool.

Mr Robinson, who questioned the value put on the Victoria Park land, said it would be a “tragedy” if the issue of the ground prevented £90m being invested.

Developers are working on four options for the site and the exact proposals would need the support of councillors.

Mr Robinson admitted the scheme was ambitious and challenging due to the complex site.

He said: “Be under no illusions this is a massive challenge.

“We are not driven by profits but by helping Hartlepool and we have an opportunity to make a massive difference.

“If it didn’t happen because of political in-fighting, it would be an absolute tragedy.

“The aim is to regenerate this area with a world class sporting facility and leisure facilities.”

Mr Robinson added the five-year phased project would create a “massive amount of jobs”.

If the masterplan was backed and plans approved by the planning committee, funding would need to be raised and that is at an early stage.

Camerons Brewery, which owns the Mill House pub, Cleveland College of Art and Design and Hartlepool College of Further Education are all involved.

The aim of the MHAAG group is to encourage councillors to support the development.

Phil Thompson, group secretary, said: “It is not every day that somebody wants to bring £90m of investment into town.

“This is a huge opportunity for the town and worthy of people’s support.”

Kevin McElhone, chairman of the action group, said: “This is an opportunity to put Hartlepool on the map.”

Group members plan to stage several roadshows and launch a petition to gather support.

Meanwhile, Gus Robinson Developments has also launched a new Facebook page to keep people informed called Mill House Development.

Councillors were due to vote at an extraordinary meeting of the full council on June 28, but that has been postponed to a future date.

Senior councillors say there is support for the proposals, but they want to see more details on the finances.