MIDDLEHAVEN VISION: Council agrees to closer ties with Chinese construction giant
AN INTERNATIONAL construction giant will help steer the future of Middlehaven as yet another plan to regenerate the area takes shape.
Middlesbrough Council leaders agreed to join forces with Chinese firm BCEGI on Friday in a renewed push to rejuvenate land north of the A66 in the town.
The partnership will see the firm help form a new masterplan for Middlehaven which will emerge in the next three months.
And the alliance comes as the council looks beyond the snow centre vision after officials revealed the dockside project would “no longer be taken forward” by developers.
BCEGI was selected as the manager for the ambitious Boho X scheme in 2019 – with a scaled back version of the office block to go to the council’s planning committee on Friday.
Now the company has been “formally procured” as the council’s strategic partner for developments on land stretching from Middlesbrough Dock to Stockton Street.
Regeneration chief Richard Horniman said there was a lot of money to be spent at Middlehaven over the next few years – and a “serious partner” was needed to help the council.
He added: “BCEGI is already on board and it’s about us broadening the scope of their activity with us.”
BCEGI is the international arm of the Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG) owned by the Chinese state.
It employs more than 20,000 people in projects and services in 27 countries – and began its UK operation in Manchester in 2013.
The firm was chosen as the council’s partner through the “NEPRO 3 Framework” – a system which helps the public sector buy in and manage services.
Council leaders lined up to praise BCEGI as a “big firm”.
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: “This is a huge organisation with international reach and experience.
“They’re working on projects on the scale of Airport City at Manchester.
“This is a big deal and a proper company which has the capacity to get stuff done.”
The independent mayor believed the construction giant had a passionate commitment to “local labour”.
He added: “If we play our cards right, everyone who works in central Middlesbrough over the train tracks on the incredible things happening over the years will see local men and women doing all of that work if BCEGI is driving it.”
Middlehaven is no stranger to grand visions promising to overhaul run down stretches near the Old Town Hall and dock.
From little Venice in the 1980s to the £500m “dream-maker” in the first decade of this century, past ambitions haven’t come to fruition yet – despite some modest successes.
However, fresh moves are afoot to build more homes “north of the border”.
Emergency works at the Grade II-listed Captain Cook Pub and an agreement to use £7.9m of Government grant for homes on brownfield land were also backed by executive councillors.
Papers showed 634 homes have been lined up on five run-down Middlehaven sites to be built by 2025 with the help of the housing cash.
Mr Preston added: “This brownfield land fund is going to allow us to work with housebuilders and others to put housing on brownfield sites with less building on greenfield sites – which we know is a very contentious subject right now.”
Grants for the now lower cost Boho X project were due to go towards urgent work at the Captain Cook pub.
But leaders didn’t agree to this – with finance officials left to find cash from elsewhere.
Vibrations from imminent work on the nearby Boho Bright Ideas pose a threat to the town’s oldest surviving pub.
This will mean major stabilisation works – including replacing drainage, roof repairs and demolishing unsafe extensions – will go ahead as part of the wider regeneration package.
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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