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BLIGHTING THE TOWN: Middlesbrough Council has pledged up to £1m to buy eyesore sites

BLIGHTING THE TOWN: Middlesbrough Council has pledged up to £1m to buy eyesore sites

The Middlehaven, also known as The Ship Inn, is currently falling into disrepair, Image: Ian Cooper/Teesside Live

Middlesbrough Council has pledged up to £1m to buy eyesore sites to stop them blighting the town.

The funding comes after an announcement last year that the council would be targeting owners of these sites in an attempt to sort them out.

However, because the council did not allocate funding it meant that the council could not buy the properties if the owners were willing to sell.

Mayor Andy Preston said: “There are too many derelict plots of land blighting communities and bringing Middlesbrough down. Where we can we will intelligently buy up these sites snd improve them.”

The council published a list of 11 ‘eyesore’ sites last year, some of which might be bought by the council with this new funding.

These sites are:

  • 56 Cargo Fleet Lane/ Bournemouth Avenue
  • Former Wee Willie, Evesham Road, Park End
  • Former Middlehaven Pub (The Ship Inn), Stockton Street
  • Former Methodist Church, Kings Road, North Ormesby
  • Former Quoit Club, Addington Drive
  • Marton Country Club, Marton
  • Newcastle House, Ingram Road
  • The Crown and Mitre, North Ormesby
  • Douglas House, Marton Road
  • Liberty’s, Longlands Road
  • Former Roseberry Petrol Station, Acklam Road

However, since the list was released last year some now have new uses or are being developed.

Another planning application has been submitted for a convenience store at Newcastle House site after the first one failed and modern apartments have been built at The Crown and Mitre.

In February 2021, a successful planning application was submitted to transform the former Liberty’s nightclub into four industrial units.

The council have previously announced plans to turn the former Quoit Club on Addington Drive into modern, affordable housing and it has said that planning permission is in place for apartments on the site at the junction of Cargo Fleet Lane and Bournemouth Avenue.

A further site that has been raised by the mayor, councillors and residents since this list was published is the Park End pub, on Penistone Road, which has been left to deteriorate for around three years.

Potential sites will need to have a business case drawn up and be approved by the directors of regeneration and culture and finance.

The owner will then be contacted to try and voluntarily acquire the site but if that’s not possible then the council may consider compulsory purchase powers.

Speaking at a council meeting on Wednesday, October 13, about the steps taken last year, Middlesbrough council’s director of regeneration, Richard Horniman, said: “There were various sites across the town that were causing a potential problem for residents living nearby.

“It’s blights on particular areas, so we said that we would take action to try and try and do something about them by putting the pressure on the owners of those sites and potentially, if we had to, going all the way through a compulsory purchase order.

“What we didn’t do at the time was allocate any money to actually buy those sites so it was all about forcing the owners to do something.”

However, this new pot of money means that the council can buy up problem sites if the owners will sell.

Mr Horniman added: “This report today is going to allocate £1m to back up that action to some sites, where we know the owners aren’t going to do anything but they are prepared to sell.

“We almost didn’t have an option to do that then whereas this money will now allow us to pick up some of those sites bring them into council ownership and then either sell them on to somebody who will do something with them or clear them, put whatever remediation in that is required, potentially develop some, it will depend on the sites.

“So this report is purely about allocating £1m of the council’s capital budget to allow us to do that extra step in the process of picking up some of those sites.”

The executive member for regeneration, Cllr Eric Polano, is keen to see these sites developed, he added: “I think it’s a wonderful idea. Richard and I have been working on it to try and get the town to remove some of the eyesores.

“It’s a tough old town, I was brought up in it, and some of the buildings have been left to go to sea by unscrupulous developers. I was sad to see it but it’s a good idea.”

 

Words: Emily Craigie, Local Democracy Reporter


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