Two major projects to transform Hartlepool and Middlesbrough town centres have won public backing – plus the thumbs-up from Middlesbrough Football Club – after securing £20million to help get them off the ground.
Earlier this year Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen – alongside Hartlepool Borough Council Leader Shane Moore and Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston – announced that the towns would become home to new Mayoral Development Corporations, to slash red tape, attract huge investment and make their streets safer.
People from across the region have now had their say on the plans, with respondents showing great support for the schemes, recognising they will help drive the economic regeneration of the town centres. Middlesbrough FC have also requested that the current proposed boundary is extended so the club can become part of the Development Corporation and assist in achieving its aims.
A total of £20million in funding has also been awarded by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority Cabinet to drive the projects forward, as the five local authority leaders backed the wider proposals for the towns – their biggest transformation in decades.
The cash will kickstart plans to redevelop the centres and their infrastructure, building on existing assets to bring more jobs and investment into the towns.
Now that the public consultation has closed, Mayor Houchen will write to the Secretary of State to formally designate the areas as Development Corporations in the early autumn.
Mayor Houchen said: “I know that launching these transformative schemes will do wonders for our town centres, but it’s fantastic to see that local people know it too and share our vision. In fact, some who replied would want to see us go further and extend the boundaries of the Mayoral Development Corporations, showing people see the advantages of the sites.
“We’ve targeted the areas that will have the biggest impact, but the benefits these projects will bring will be felt right across the towns, not just on the designated land. The safer, cleaner and more connected centres that we’re creating will have a wider knock-on effect, complementing each other to make our region an even better place to live, visit and invest.
“These new powers will give us control over planning like never before, letting us cut bureaucracy and go further, faster in driving the change local people and businesses are crying out for – and delivery can start now.”
The designs for Hartlepool aim to reshape the town to make it a more attractive place to live and visit, support small businesses and deliver a master plan to maximise future funding.
Councillor Shane Moore, Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “I am extremely excited about us creating a Hartlepool MDC as I know how much this will be able to contribute to the fantastic work that is already going on in the town by adding extra capacity, cutting through red tape and attracting external investment.
“The main focus of the MDC will of course be town centre regeneration, but I’ve been very keen to ensure both Oaksway and Queens Meadow business parks are included so that we can absolutely capitalise on attracting good quality jobs not only into town but to locations that are easily accessible.
“Hartlepool has turned a corner in the past few years and this is us once again proving that now is the time to live, work and invest in Hartlepool.”
In Middlesbrough, proposals focused on the town centre, Middlehaven and Zetland Quarter would make the streets safer and cleaner and tie them – and major assets – together more closely.
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: “Central Middlesbrough is already changing for the better and working alongside Ben Houchen I’m convinced we can fulfil our enormous potential.
“Developments in leisure, education and hospitality will make the centre of town a magnet for people from miles around.
“We’ve got to make sure visitors and the hundreds of new residents have a town centre to be proud of.
“This initial funding is another boost for our plans but it really is just the start.”
Lee Fryett, Chief Commercial Officer of Middlesbrough FC, said: “Through the consultation phase, the club has requested that the proposed boundary is extended to include the Riverside Stadium which is currently under consideration. We believe that there is merit for both the club, the proposed Development Corporation and the wider community for this to be put forward.”