A REGENERATION chief has revealed how major projects promising to change the face of Middlesbrough are getting on during the coronavirus pandemic.

The vast “digital city” vision at Middlehaven, filling offices in Centre Square and grand visions to bring 4,000 extra residents to the centre of town are all in the sights of Middlesbrough Council.

But the latest infrastructure scrutiny panel was told how pandemic had brought “drastic changes” to the town centre – and had taken up a lot of regeneration leaders’ time.

The “Boho 8” offices, lined up to go behind the existing Boho One building near Middlesbrough railway station, are designed to be a “pressure valve” for digital firms at Middlehaven. 

The £2.5m project has promised 11,000 square feet of office space – and was originally due to be completed in August. 

Officer Richard Horniman told Wednesday’s panel the modular offices were “in production” off site.

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But he also confirmed work on the £30m Boho X skyscraper project hadn’t started yet. 

Blueprints have been lodged for the 260ft tower being built by Chinese construction giant BCEGI. 

Plans were due to go before the council’s planning committee in June. 

But they haven’t appeared yet. 

Meanwhile, Mr Horniman said Thirteen’s “BoHouse” development south of Gosforth Street was “well on” – with a frame up and the internal structure being installed. 

The scheme will have 40 apartments when it’s done. 

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston has said he wants to have an extra 4,000 people living in the centre of town.

As many as 2,000 new homes have been lined up for Gresham, Centre Square, Middlehaven and Boho as part of the “urban living” vision. 

Social housing giant Thirteen has lodged plans to build 145 homes in Gresham with the aim of starting construction next year. 

And the mayor has said it should be “relatively easy” to build 1,000 new homes in TS1 and parts of TS2 in the next “two to four years”. 

Mr Horniman said there were “about eight or nine” schemes “on the go” at the moment where someone was interested in developing a site. 

The regeneration chief added: “We’re looking to put funding packages together and get schemes towards planning approval. 

“There are going to be quite a lot of those over the coming year.

“Most of them will be at Middlehaven as well as the stuff that’s happening at Gresham as well.

“We’re trying to get more people living in that area.”

Meanwhile, efforts are continuing to fill council-owned offices in Centre Square. 

The office project was launched under the last administration and envisaged five blocks with one for council staff.

The plans were scaled back to two offices – and moves to rehouse authority workers the buildings were shelved. 

Talks to bring a new North-East bank GBB to the offices were held in April with hopes of the firm setting up its HQ in Middlesbrough to create 120 jobs in the next five years. 

Mr Horniman told the panel interest in the offices was “still very high” despite the pandemic’s impact. 

“We’ve got a number of companies going through a legal process at the moment to sign leases,” he added.

“There is only the ground floor of building two where there isn’t somebody going through the process of taking it on, as well as the food and beverage unit in building one. 

“That’s looking fairly positive – and nobody is withdrawing because of covid. 

“They should all hopefully be announced this year.”

Cllr Ron Arundale asked what was happening with the Transporter Bridge which has been shut for repairs since last July. 

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The historic bridge was shut due to structural problems and stretched cables with officials saying it would stay closed until September at the earliest. 

Council officer Geoff Field said an inspection was still being completed at the site. 

“We expect that to be completed in August – they’ve been doing it for a little while as things have been delayed slightly,” he added. 

“Once we understand what that inspection is telling us we’ll be able to think about what the future holds for the Transporter Bridge.”