More commercial units occupied by retailers and local businesses in Redcar and Cleveland are empty, according to a wide-ranging report.

Redcar and Cleveland Council’s annual monitoring report said last year 96 such units were vacant compared to 91 in 2022, a 5.2% increase.

The increase was accounted for by a rise in Eston from seven to ten empty commercial units and in Saltburn from three to seven.

Figures for other areas in the borough remained static.

The report covering the 2022/23 period also said the highest number of units deemed to be in poor or very poor condition were in Redcar (37), although this number had fallen by 9% on the previous 12-month period.

Eston and Loftus had the highest proportion of poor or very poor condition commercial units when set against the overall total, 15.4% in Eston’s case and 13.8% in Loftus.

The report said through its policies the council was seeking to improve and protect the vitality and viability of town, district and local centres.

It said a policy aimed at ensuring there were no more than 5% hot food takeaways as a proportion of all commercial units within these designated centres had “generally been successful” with no recorded change in the overall number.

The local authority was said to be committed to improving the overall appearance of the borough’s centres and would continue to address the quality of shop fronts through its regeneration programmes where funding allowed.

Last week representatives of the Labour Party’s front bench, including Deputy Leader Angela Rayner, were on Teesside to unveil a plan to “revitalise” Britain’s high streets, with Conservatives pointing out in response multi-million pound investment in town centres courtesy of levelling up cash and the likes of the Town Deal and Future High Streets Fund.

‘Place to live, work, invest and visit’ The council’s annual monitoring report assesses the implementation of policies contained within the Local Plan – a strategic planning blueprint drawn up by local councils – and other related documents and the extent to which the policies aimed at contributing to the attractiveness and functionality of Redcar and Cleveland as a place to live, work, invest and visit are being achieved.

The Local Plan aims to locate development in the most sustainable locations with the best access to facilities and services.

The monitoring report revealed that, as far as new housing is concerned, the majority in 2022/23 was constructed in urban/coastal areas with 38% built in rural areas, mostly in Guisborough, which accounted for 26% of all housing developments in the borough.

A total of 20% of housing development took place on previously developed land.

The report said: “While we continue to prioritise the reuse of previously developed land, it must be recognised that there are only a limited number of previously developed land sites available and that some sites may not be suitable for certain types of development.  “To meet identified housing needs some greenfield development will therefore be necessary.”

Over the past eight years, an average of 404 new homes annually have been built and delivered in Redcar and Cleveland with a net minimum of 3,978 identified previously as being required between 2015/16 and 2031/32 in order to boost the supply of housing.

Meanwhile, during the 2022/23 period, 184 affordable housing units were delivered, largely in South Bank, Marske, Normanby, Redcar and Loftus, an increase from 141 during the previous year.

The report said that there had been a large increase in available land for potential employment at the Teesworks industrial site, near Redcar, following significant demolition and preparation works.

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It also included a section on minerals and waste, noting that 53,790 tonnes of household waste was collected with more than 6% going to landfill.

Transport was another area covered in the report – the number of bus journeys in the borough having gone up year-on-year from 2.3m to 2.85m, although patronage levels were still below those prior to the covid-19 outbreak.

The number of rail journeys in 2022/23 also increased – 900,918 being made in total – a rise on the 819,956 journeys in 2021/22.