PLANS have been approved to invest £3m in regenerating east Cleveland’s town and villages.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has earmarked the cash in an attempt to secure almost £45m of investment from other bodies, including European grants, lottery funding and private businesses, to breathe new life into the area.

The money, which is being invested to help transform places such as Saltburn, Guisborough, Loftus, Brotton and Skelton, is part of the East Cleveland Towns and Villages Investment Initiative.

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The cash will be used to create employment opportunities, develop businesses in the area and address skills shortages amongst young people.

Other areas to set to benefit from the investment include improved transport networks, faster broadband speeds and improving housing standards.

Councillor Mark Hannon, the council's cabinet member for economic development, said: “This is a very positive report. It is a working document so things can be put in and taken out wherever appropriate to deliver our aims.

“In times where austerity seems to have been going on forever, we are still investing in the area and we will continue to invest in the infrastructure in east Cleveland.”

It is hoped that the plan will deliver 155 business start ups, create or safeguard nearly 600 jobs and help to deliver more than 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities.

Cabinet member for member for highways, planning and transport and Skelton ward representative, Councillor Helen McLuckie said: “There is a need for jobs in east Cleveland and local jobs, as we know what problem transport is like in the area – it is really difficult.

Other plans for the money include investing in cash in growing the East Cleveland Business Park and improve commercial properties in town centres to encourage traders to open businesses.

Independent councilor Barry Hunt said: “The only thing that worries is that we could lose sight of some of the empty buildings that are already available in the area, such as the Co-op building in Skinningrove and on Loftus High Street.”

The authority has outlined 11 possible projects that will help deliver the investment across east Cleveland.

Councillor Hannon, who delivered the report, concluded: “This is a massive investment in the borough and it is really good to see this kind of economic growth going on in the borough.”