REJUVENATE THE TOWN: Council buys former M&S store building
The former Marks and Spencer store building in the High Street, Redcar, Image: Teesside Live
Redcar and Cleveland Council has bought the old Marks and Spencer store building in Redcar High Street.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands the building will be demolished as part of the £25m ‘Town Deal’ plans to rejuvenate the coastal town.
The council has not disclosed what it paid for the freehold, with a spokesman describing it as “commercially sensitive at this time”.
But the property, which has dual entrances from the High Street and The Esplanade, was previously up for sale on the open market with a guide price of £1.29m.
In June council leader Mary Lanigan promised to “make every penny count” of the £25m being provided by the Government from its Town Deal fund.
The M&S store, which closed in 2014, will make way for a scheme linking the High Street with the seafront which will provide an events space and allow existing and pop-up businesses to trade outdoors.
Other aspects of the Town Deal plans include a proposed outdoor watersports centre at Coatham, an indoor family activity centre on The Esplanade, renovating properties in Station Road, along with an improved library for the town and a clean energy education hub at Redcar & Cleveland College.
The council is thought to be in discussions to potentially buy other buildings in the town, but these have not been made public with the relevant agenda items being declared as ‘exempt’.
A council spokesman said: “Officers are continuing to work with our partners on the Redcar Town Deal board to make sure this huge opportunity to transform the town is grabbed with both hands.
“A key element of the Redcar Town Deal scheme is opening up a new events and cultural space between the seafront and the town centre and it is as part of those plans that the former Marks and Spencer building freehold has been bought.
“We will continue to support the Redcar Town Deal Board and all other partners, including residents and all members of the community, as further designs and plans are developed to help make this exciting vision for Redcar a reality.”
Redcar councillor Neil Baldwin, an independent representing the Coatham ward, said: “It is the intention to demolish it [the M&S store].
“We are also looking at other properties as far as I am aware.”
Cllr Baldwin said he supported the council’s approach to unused and dilapidated buildings to make way for regeneration schemes.
Loftus, in east Cleveland, has been a particular focus with public funds being used to buy the former grade II listed Barclays Bank building, as well as a former church and derelict chapel.
Loftus was awarded £5.8m from the Government’s Future High Streets funding pot in May this year.
However there has not been widespread support for this policy with former council leader, Labour’s Sue Jeffrey questioning the value for money element.
Cllr Baldwin said: “We have run down areas all through the borough and there are places and buildings which are never going to be re-inhabited, and the council can take the first step and hammer away in terms of regeneration.”
Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Demcoracy Reporter
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