MIDDLEHAVEN: Call for ‘classier name’ as part of regeneration
A RUN down stretch of Teesside at the heart of another regeneration effort needs a “classier name” to help turn around its fortunes.
That was the view of Middlesbrough councillor Chris Hobson as leaders agreed grant cash should be used to prime housing efforts at Middlehaven.
North of the A66, St Hilda’s, and “over the border” have seen a raft of regeneration vision since the 1980s – with mixed results.
Converting the dock area into “little Venice” was one early hope – with the £500m “dream-maker” featuring bold drawings from the late architect Will Alsop in 2004.
Now more plans for Middlehaven are being drawn up at the moment alongside Chinese construction giant BCEGI.
Leaders agreed to use up to £2m of Middlesbrough’s £21.9m “Towns Fund” allocation to help bring 90 homes to land between Gosford Street and Feversham Street on Tuesday.
Cllr Hobson believed the council was “showing initiative” over the border – adding people hadn’t wanted to build there in the past.
The executive member for finance added: “I think we’re going to have to find a different name for it, and give it a classy name now.
“People are taking an interest now and, although we’ve had to work hard, I think it’s now starting to move.
“It will be brilliant to see we have built things over the border and to have really good developments over there.
“When people see houses over there, I think it will really change people’s minds.
“I really do think we need a classy name for it.”
The push near the new Boho X office development comes as part of wider ambitions to bring 4,000 residents to the centre of town in the next decade.
Council reports stated the £2m “gap funding” was set aside to try and “kick start” the housing market north of the A66.
It added: “The site has been subject to little interest from market house builders due to market forces – and the potentially onerous cost of development in this location makes it a relatively unattractive development opportunity.”
The grant cash will be freed up for developers if they can show their scheme would be financially unviable without extra help.
Deputy mayor Antony High said the council was “forever under pressure” to increase the number of houses in the town – and hailed the use of brownfield land.
“To be driving initiatives in areas which haven’t seen houses for decades shows our intention to greatly improve the brownfield space we have across the town,” said Cllr High.
Wider ambitions to create a digital city campus at Middlehaven are continuing – with the hope of bringing £250m of business and residential development in the coming years.
Plans for a scaled-down seven-storey Boho X office development were approved by councillors last month.
Meanwhile, cash totalling £7.9m from a Government brownfield housing fund has also been lined up to create more than 600 homes on five run-down sites at Middlehaven by 2025.
Rounding off, Cllr High disagreed with Cllr Hobson’s name change bid in a light-hearted exchange.
“It will always be over the border,” he added.
“They tried to give Whinney Banks the name of Acklam Green 15 years ago – if you mention Acklam Green, nobody knows where you are.
“That will be a generational thing – it will always be over the border.
“And I’d get a lot of grief off friends who live over the border if we did (change it) as well.”
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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