Councillors have given planning permission for a high street leisure development which is a centrepiece of the £25m Redcar Town Deal scheme.

Redcar and Cleveland Council previously bought up the former Marks & Spencer building and the adjacent Goodwins property in Redcar High Street, which are being demolished.

They will be replaced by a new family-focused entertainment venue which has been slated to contain the likes of tenpin bowling, mini golf, laser tag and climbing walls, while the new building will also contain a ‘cultural hub’ to house the town’s library.

An indoor street, connecting the High Street and the Esplanade overlooking the seafront, is also to be created, which will include a space for public events.

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Construction of the development is due to begin later this year.

Planning officers recommended approval of the plans, and while members of the council’s regulatory committee went along with this recommendation, there were concerns raised about the look of the new building and disabled access for motorists.

A consultation response from the council’s place, development and investment team said the development would help address a current lack of ‘wet weather’ attractions in Redcar for when trips to the beach weren’t popular.

It said visitors would also be likely to use shops in the vicinity, supporting existing businesses and increasing footfall.

A report for council members said: “The proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on neighbour amenity and raises no issues in terms of highways safety or crime prevention. 

“The scale and design is acceptable and the proposal would respect the character of the site and surroundings.”

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Daniel Gregg, an associate director with the company Lichfields, which is working with the council to deliver the scheme, said it was an “exciting development” with a “modern and striking” design

He said: “It will transform this site into a brand new family attraction and provide space to meet, relax and have fun all under one roof, helping Redcar to become an all-year round visitor attraction.

“It will include bowling and other entertainment uses.

“A cultural hub will replace the existing library, placing it at the heart of the town centre, helping to create a new community focus, providing a modern and welcoming space for all.

“There will be access to digital technology, services, information and learning and include a children’s library and storytelling area and space for exhibitions.

“The new public space next to the high street will provide a focal point for the town centre, hosting a regular programme of activities.”

Mr Gregg said the development would help Redcar “reinvent its offer” to tourists.

He said: “This scheme would see a key site redeveloped, reducing the town vacancy rate and improving impressions of the seafront from the town centre.”

The committee meeting was told a series of consultation events had taken place with revisions taking place to take into account comments from residents.

Mr Gregg said the colour of the cladding as well as the external materials being used had yet to be finalised and would be agreed with officers at a later date with the public having a further opportunity to comment before planning conditions were discharged.

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Councillor Mike Lockwood said: “As soon as it was mooted that the library would move into this building I have had several comments from residents concerned about disabled parking, which is normally within a manageable distance.

“Have you thought about that?”

Mr Gregg said two designated disabled spaces were being provided and other disabled parking was available in proximity to the development.

Councillor Neil Baldwin said the side of the Marks & Spencer building contained a blue, historic plaque and asked if it could stay on site.

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Claire Griffiths, the council’s development services manager, said a condition could be attached to planning that the plaque be incorporated into the design of the building or a planned landscaped area.

Cllr Baldwin, who represents the Coatham ward, said: “Marks and Spencer has been empty as long as I have been a councillor, it is a wasted site and building and needs redeveloping.

“Having something like a bowling alley and different leisure facilities will bring people in and I would support this application.”