GO AHEAD FOR GRESHAM: Work on 81 new homes to start in summer
A MOVE to open the door for 81 more homes on derelict land in central Middlesbrough has been backed by leaders.
Council chiefs agreed to lease a site bounded by Borough Road, Garnet Street and Amber Street to social housing giant Thirteen on Tuesday afternoon.
It will allow new mews properties, bungalows and apartments to come to the stretch in the next two years.
Work is set to begin imminently on a nearby 145 home estate at Gresham near Union Street.
And council papers show Thirteen aims to start work on a new second phase in the summer.
The decision comes as Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston aims to bring 4,000 new residents to the town centre in the next decade.
Cllr Ashley Waters, executive member for regeneration, said the scheme would allow 260 new homes to come to the area – and hoped the council tax generated would help the authority stop rate increases in future.
He added: “We’re committed to developing these sites which have been left for so long in Middlesbrough.
“They have been eyesores.
“You have to go past this as you travel through Middlesbrough.
“To have this revitalised means it ties in with the College of Art and fantastic new things going on as you come into Middlesbrough.”
Officials have estimated the homes on the 4.5 acre stretch will bring an extra £110,000 to the council every year in extra tax.
In 2005, former independent mayor Ray Mallon announced about 1,500 homes in Gresham would be torn down to eliminate a “cancer” in the centre of the town.
That demolition process was halted in 2013 – but many streets have seen decline since as problems with drugs and deprivation gripped Gresham.
The council agreed a masterplan with Teesside University four years ago to build a new student village behind Borough Road.
But those plans were scrapped last year as Thirteen signalled aims to take on the whole Gresham development.
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said he spoke to Thirteen boss Ian Wardle about Gresham before his election in 2019 – and praised the firm for its approach.
He added: “In Gresham, hundreds of houses were knocked down and people were turfed out of houses they’d lived in for years.
“That was a financial catastrophe which isn’t actually widely understood.
“That cost tens of millions of pounds – which could have gone on other things.
“In addition, the social cost of that demolition has been monstrous – it’s deterred shopping, investment and jobs.
“Now there is something positive.”
Mr Preston also aired a plea to Nunthorpe and Stainton residents by arguing the case for the central Middlesbrough scheme.
He said: “The financial and social cost of Gresham is a burden to all of us. It damages services and puts up your council tax.
“We need to get out town centre moving and everyone will benefit from jobs, opportunities and lower council tax.”
“Broken promises” v “Foolish” past decisions
In 2019, the previous Labour administration set up a new council-backed company “M Homes” in an effort to develop 100 council houses on the site.
However, those plans were shelved by Mr Preston who instead decided to enter into a partnership with Thirteen on the land.
Cllr Waters told the executive there were plans for “only 39 homes” through the MHomes vehicle – and praised the relationship with Thirteen.
Newport councillor Alma Hellaoui was delighted to see the “eyesore site” developed.
But the Labour member said the land at Gresham was neglected because it had faced “massive obstacles” – telling leaders “promises were broken” on Government cash more than a decade ago.
Mr Preston didn’t agree – saying past leaders “steamed into a situation without funding” and had “risked huge amounts of money”.
“No money was forthcoming because no money was ever legally pledged,” he added
“I think what they did has proven to be foolish in the extreme.”
Executive members unanimously agreed to the 999-year lease to Thirteen.
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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