Hartlepool charity puts sports field up for sale after it becomes ‘drain on resource’

Friarage Field, behind the Heugh Gun Battery Museum for sale
Friarage Field, behind the Heugh Gun Battery Museum for sale

A Hartlepool charity is looking to sell a field on part of a historic site to be able to invest more in the town’s young people.

The Henry Smith Educational Charity has owned the 2.87-acre Friarage Field on the Headland for more than 200 years.

Headland and Harbour Councillor Shane Moore.

Headland and Harbour Councillor Shane Moore.

It has now begun a process to try to find a buyer as it says the costs associated with the field and its grade-listed wall are preventing the charity from doing what it set out to do.

Invitations for informal tender have gone out.

John Moore, chairman of the Henry Smith Educational Charity, said: “Following a review of the future of the Henry Smith Education Charity, it became clear that we were not meeting the primary objective of offering grants to young people and we looked at ways to improve income and reduce expenditure.

“One of the requirements of the Charity Commissioners is that grants should come from revenue and not capital. The trust has some capital but, with the very low interest rates at present, brings in little more than the cost of administering the charity – the main drain on the funds being the maintenance/insurance of the field and listed wall surrounding the field.

“One option was to offer the Friarage Field and wall for sale and invest the proceeds to use the interest for grant purposes.”

The land in question is leased by the charity until 2023 to Hartlepool’s Boys Brigade Old Boys rugby club, who play on the field.

Among the conditions of any sale are that it is used only for sports and recreation.

Headland and Harbour Councillor Shane Moore, who is one of three charity trustees elected by Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “The site is specifically designated for sports and recreational use.

“There is a covenant on the land and it is also designated as such in the Local Plan, so there’s no possibility for it to be developed into housing or anything else.

“It is hoped someone like the Old Boys might be able to come along and take purchase. Then they would not only have the security of having their own land, there is the possibility of putting in grants for locker rooms and maybe a clubhouse.”

The closing date for informal tenders is noon on Friday, December 7, and must be made by email to the council’s Estates Department at Estates@hartlepool.gov.uk.