A new bid to takeover and transform Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange Shopping Centre has moved one step closer after winning approval from key town figures.

The latest meeting of the recently-formed Hartlepool Development Corporation (HDC) board approved proposals to take control of the site as part of their regeneration plans for the area.

The HDC has been in negotiations with Mars Pension Trustees to buy the long lease for Middleton Grange, with board leaders stating the takeover will pave the way for a “reinvigorated town centre that people want to spend time in.”

Current plans for the shopping centre include regenerated public spaces and a new frontage while also opening it up to a wider range of uses beyond retail.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who is chair of the HDC board, said it comes as part of their work to “make things happen and deliver investment and jobs” in Hartlepool.

Posting on social media, he said: “With our mayoral development corporation in Hartlepool, we’re working to make the town an even better place to spend time, supporting jobs and boosting the economy at the same time.

“We’ve agreed a deal to transform Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, with plans including: better public spaces, new frontage and new food and drink offerings.” 

Ahead of Tuesday’s (November 28) meeting he had said the shopping centre was “a big piece of the puzzle” as part of “huge, transformational plans for Hartlepool,” but added it was “no secret that it needs some TLC.”

The transfer will ultimately give HDC control of the centre and is seen as “vital to the overall masterplan for Hartlepool”.

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This blueprint includes attracting 2,000 new jobs, building up to 1,300 new homes, restoring, reinvigorating and reshaping a sustainable and vibrant town centre and renewing the waterfront.

The takeover plan will see Hartlepool Borough Council retain the freehold of the site, with the HDC Board appointing asset and property managers to oversee Middleton Grange on its behalf.

Council reports on the latest HDC board meeting note that some matters still need to be formally agreed between the HDC and the vendor.

Therefore delegation was provided to the Tees Valley Combined Authority chief executive and other leading officers to complete “all legal documentation in order to facilitate the purchase”.