Dramatic and ambitious plans to transform Middlesbrough via investments totalling almost £700 million have been unveiled by the town’s Council.
Elected mayor David Budd and interim chief executive Tony Parkinson have confirmed that the Council will invest £74m into a series of exciting developments over the next four years.
Middlesbrough’s Investment Prospectus, which will look to create 5,000 new jobs in the town, will also see the Council target over £600m of investment from the private sector and other parts of the public sector by 2020.
The series of developments include a £30m snow centre at Middlehaven, 450-bed student village linked to Teesside University, a brand new Media and Innovation Village, Grade A town centre office space and 5,500 new homes.
Parkinson says: “It doesn’t always come naturally to the people of this area, but this is a new era of positivity where we need to talk up the place.
“We have to do that, and the intent is that the rest of world starts to do that too. If we want to attract investment, we certainly need businesses to talk up the area as much as possible.”
The bold plans will transform Middlesbrough into the “city centre” of the Tees Valley, insists mayor Budd, adding: “I can’t remember there ever being as much as this happening in Middlesbrough. It is truly exciting.
“Nearly all of it will happen in a fairly short space of time and some of it is already happening. There’s not a massive amount of speculation involved. We’re raising ambitions and aspirations for the town, its people and our businesses.
“These plans build on the £500m-worth of investments in the town over the last three years or so.
“The plans represent the next wave of investment on top of that half a billion pounds already spent, some of which was Council money and some of which we facilitated through private investors.”
Those funds have already created a series of new housing developments, the state-of-the-art Middlesbrough Sports Village, the £10.8m Teesside Advanced Manufacturing Park, hotel developments, enhancements to Teesside University and Middlesbrough College including the STEM Centre, Acklam Hall, the Baker and Bedford Street regeneration zone, the hugely successful Orange Pip Market and improvements to both Stewart Park and Albert Park.
Parkinson adds: “Whilst we expect to leverage in over £600m of private sector and wider public sector investments, I can confirm that our £74m is costed, it’s in our plan and it’s within the mayor’s budget. We’re not plucking a figure out of thin air – we have budgeted to spend that money.
“Our money is on the table. But we won’t be defined by what we don’t do but by what we do.
“If we deliver only 70%-75% of this, so that instead of 5,000 jobs we only create 4,000, and instead of £600m we only attract £450m, is that failure? Absolutely not, but actually we’re confident of delivering much more than that.
“I’ll be disappointed if, in five years’ time, the figure’s not well in excess of £600m.”
Both Budd and Parkinson are very clear: Middlesbrough is open for business and those who have invested recently are making the kind of profit they projected. Their challenge to any business interested in exploring the available investment opportunities is quite simply: “Get in touch, we are here, ready to listen – and deliver flexible and innovative strategies to assist.”
The seven connected component parts to the Investment Prospectus are:
The exciting ambition is to create a major leisure destination at Middlehaven, focused around a £30m snow centre, developed by Cool Runnings (NE), situated between Middlesbrough College and Temenos.
The Council will also make £9.6m of infrastructure investment to open up development opportunities in the area, with much confidence that restaurants, bars and further leisure projects will follow once building work to the snow centre gets underway.
Parkinson says: “This is about making Middlehaven a major leisure destination. The snow centre is the big one as independent studies indicate it will attract a minimum of 2.25 million visitors a year because its catchment area is anything within an hour-and-a-half’s drive.”
While it is hoped work will get underway on the snow centre within 12 months, the Council is also working on a scheme to replace the existing footbridge between the Riverside Stadium and Temenos with a road bridge, whilst also redesigning the road system to help open surrounding land for development.
This element is led by the private development of 200,000-300,000 sq ft of new Grade A office accommodation alongside Teesside Law Courts, designed to help attract up to 2,000 service industry jobs to the town.
It also features the near £9m refurbishment of the Town Hall.
Budd says: “The Tees Valley Combined Authority has a strategic economic plan that is majored on delivering 25,000 jobs to the region. Many of those jobs are city centre jobs – and developers and all expert reports make it clear those sort of jobs can only locate to Middlesbrough, in the new Grade A office development.
“This will make Middlesbrough the city centre of a successful city region. This area needs a city centre, and we are it.”
Business and Enterprise
The Council plans to grow the town’s business base by attracting new commercial enterprises, primarily around a new Hemlington Grange Business Park in the south of the town, but also focusing on clustering similar businesses around the Advanced Manufacturing Park, opposite Riverside Park, on the back of success there for offshore specialists TWI.
The Railway and Historic Quarter
With work getting underway on long-awaited repairs to Middlesbrough Railway Station, supported by £2.7m of funding from Network Rail, the Council is now looking to create a masterplan to regenerate the station’s immediate surroundings.
This will not only focus on attracting businesses to the Queen’s Square area but will also provide much improved first impressions of the town as increasing numbers take advantage of between five and seven direct trains to and from London each day, starting from 2020, together with speedier connections to Newcastle and Leeds.
The University Quarter
The ongoing development of the area around the university will reach a new high with the building of a private sector-funded 450-bed Student Village, connecting the area formerly known as Gresham with the Campus Heart.
Media and Innovation Village
Still being scoped with the aim of seeing real progress by around 2020, this development would see the existing bus station relocated to make way for a new centre for leisure and cultural activity on the south end of the town, with Cleveland College of Art and Design switching from its long-term Linthorpe base to a more central area.
Growth and prosperity with Housing
The building of 5,500 high-quality new homes, predominantly in the south of the town, will not only create an additional £5m in annual council tax but provide investment capital from the sale of land. Perhaps most importantly, it will create real options to help Middlesbrough retain successful Teessiders and those who have graduated from the university.