LOFTUS TOWN: Revamped community hub and park in offing
Coronation Park, in Loftus, which is to receive a £1.2m investment including landscaping, a new boulevard, play equipment and CCTV, Image: Google
More improvements have been signed off for the east Cleveland town of Loftus including a revamped community hub, an upgrade for a local park and new car parking spaces.
The planned works, costing about £3.2m, were recently approved by Redcar and Cleveland Council cabinet members.
They will see
:: The Duncan Place Youth and Community Centre extended and renovated to create a “welcoming and revitalised” community hub, bringing together council services and housing the town’s library
:: Improvements to Coronation Park to “fulfill its potential” as a public place for everyday leisure and also special events
:: The creation of a 30 bay car park and coach drop off point for visitors and residents on the vacated site of the existing library in Hall Grounds, along with electric vehicle charging points and toilets.
The council previously secured £5.8m from the Government’s Future High Street Fund, along with £3m from the Tees Valley Combined Authority’s Indigenous Growth Fund for Loftus in a bid to deliver a masterplan to turn around its fortunes.
It is also contributing its own growth funding to various schemes in the area and this, along with third-party investment, will top £1m, the overall aim being to transform Loftus into a modern market town that attracts people to live, work and set up business.
A report to cabinet members said the Duncan Place project would “create a bespoke extension to the building which will create an enhanced, welcoming environment for the library users”, along with a new hall allowing library, youth, and family services to hold functions or rent out the space.
A new commercial café will also be added providing a rental income for the local authority.
The council said space at the existing library was limited and inflexible and it would require a large amount of spending over the next ten years to maintain it to a suitable standard.
The plans would also reduce the budget required for ongoing maintenance.
The adjacent Coronation Park will be re-landscaped and a new boulevard created, while there will also be new play equipment for children installed, as well as CCTV.
Consultation has been carried out with the Loftus Regeneration Group, which consists of residents, the town council, borough council ward members, businesses, the Loftus Accord Walking Group, ‘Love Loftus’, and the Temperance Square Business Forum.
The report said additional car parking was a key demand from residents and businesses when a separate consultation on the masterplan was undertaken and the additional 30 bays and coach drop-off point would complement improvements to the High Street intended to boost visitor numbers.
It said that should project costs go above the allocation budgeted for, the council may have to scale back other schemes within the Loftus masterplan to cover any shortfall, or find additional match funding.
The report said: “It must be highlighted that construction costs have gone up nationally due to severe shortages of essential building materials which will lead to increases in costs of capital projects.
“This is due to the combined impact of the pandemic and Brexit measures on workforces and supplies of materials.
“Specifically, there has been a surge in the cost of timber, bricks, glass, and steel, whilst orders have grown substantially since the full easing of lockdown restrictions.”
Work on the community hub and Coronation Park schemes is due to start between August and November next year and is estimated to be completed in November 2023.
The design and construction of the Hall Grounds library site is slated for a period between mid-2022 and March 2024.
Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter
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