Planning powers have officially transferred to Mayoral Development Corporations in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough today (Thursday, June 1).

In February, legislation was officially laid before Parliament for the towns’ respective Mayoral Development Corporations (MDCs).

And today, the two MDCs have received powers to act as the determining authorities for planning applications submitted in the areas bound by the Development Corporations.

Read more: New Labour and Lib Dem cabinet revealed for Darlington Council

Both MDCs are working closely with their respective local authorities to iron out details on their new powers and are shortly expected to finalise the types of applications the MDCs are to oversee, and those which are to remain with the Councils.

A spokesperson for the Tees Valley Combined Authority said that the move “gives the MDCs more clout to drive investment and cut red tape, while retaining safeguards for both Hartlepool Borough Council and Middlesbrough Council over future developments”.

Moves to set up Hartlepool MDC, alongside the principle of a list of assets for transfer, were unanimously backed at a Full Council meeting.

However, controversy over the proposed transfers has broken out, with Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen quizzed about the secrecy of the property deals.

Another Teesside body – the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC), which Mr Houchen also chairs – has recently come under fire for secrecy in deals where public assets have been transferred to developers.

Read the full story here.

The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough Historic Quarter Middlesbrough Historic Quarter (Image: The Northern Echo)

Middlesbrough’s Development Corporation will focus on the town centre, Middlehaven and the Zetland Historic Quarter to tie them together more closely. It will also include crucial assets such as the Boho zone, Middlesbrough Station, the Northern School of Art, Centre Square, and Teesside University.

Middlesbrough Football Club, Union Village, at Gresham, and the area behind Sainsbury’s between the A66 and North Road are also included within the zone’s boundaries.

Meanwhile, Hartlepool’s Corporation will encompass Oakesway Business Park, retail and leisure land – including Mill House Leisure Centre and Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, with a raft of public realm, land, and civic buildings.

A consultation by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the asset owners in both MDCs is ongoing. The Secretary of State will have the final say over whether the assets should transfer to the respective MDCs. 

A pledge has also been made by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen that neither Middlesbrough nor Hartlepool Borough Councils’ financial plans will be adversely affected in any way by the activities of the Corporations.

Read next: 

Mayor Houchen said: “We will make huge changes to Middlesbrough and Hartlepool by cutting red tape and boosting investment while keeping a hand on the tiller when it comes to ensuring development truly comes to fruition.

“By taking on these planning powers, the Corporations now have the means to really transform the hearts of both Middlesbrough and Hartlepool. We’re working very closely with both Local Authorities to ensure we bring what we all want to achieve.

“We want to see Hartlepool grow as a cultural capital of the north, and we have great ambitions to make Middlesbrough a place where people want to live, work and study. The sky really is the limit.”