More than £300,000 of Government cash is being used to change the face of public transport in Hartlepool.

The money has been given by the Government to provide a new transport interchange in Church Street, with a bus station for out-of-town buses.

The money, paid as part of the council's local transport plan allocation for 2002/2003, will fund a detailed design and allow other preliminary work to be carried out.

Land close to the town's railway station has been selected for the site of the transport interchange, which will effectively provide a bus station for out-of-town buses whilst integrating services more closely with other forms of travel, including trains and taxis.

It is hoped that construction work can begin in 2003/4, with a view to having the interchange up and running in 2004.

Ian Parker, Hartlepool Borough Council's head of highways and transportation, said: "We are often asked why the town doesn't have a bus station and this scheme will provide a facility for out-of-town buses that will be easily accessible and visible, with close links to both the town centre and the marina.

"This extra cash allocation is a massive endorsement for our commitment to try to provide the best possible public transport system for residents of Hartlepool and people who come to visit us."

John Coward, chair of the council's regeneration board, added: "I am delighted that the Government has given us this extra money, which is a tribute to the hard work and commitment of all council staff working on this scheme."

The council was awarded £2.14m in its local transport plan for 2002/2003, which includes £544,000 for the maintenance of major roads, notably West View Road.