The historic heart of Middlesbrough will become the place to live, work and go to school according to three of those involved with far-reaching plans to regenerate the derelict area of land between the Transporter Bridge and Middlesbrough railway station.
With the Boho 8 digital development and live-work apartments of Bohouse North already underway and the transformational Boho X digital building awaiting the green light, the construction of a secondary school, social farm and a series of modern homes are set to breathe life back into Middlehaven.
Representatives of Bright Ideas, Camphill Village Trust and Outwood Academy Riverside took part in the latest Tees Business Leaders online Q&A to discuss the exciting developments.
“When I looked at the area, my initial thought was ‘Wow! This this is a great place for young people to grow up and live,” said Martin Hawthorne, director of Bright Ideas Consulting, the team behind Boho Village, a development of 61 affordable homes to rent.
“It’s close to the railway station and walkable to the main cafes and places of interest in the town. It’s right in the heart of things. The area is ripe for development – it’s coming out of the ashes!”
Martin explained that, though other developers may have turned their backs on the land over the years, he has stuck firm to his vision of helping to create an exciting and vibrant future.
“I’ve designed something really eye-catching, lovely and ecologically sound with my homes,” he said.
“The apartments are large, with a balcony, and the downstairs units have gardens. There’s parking for everybody. Middlehaven is where it’s all going to be happening.”
Meanwhile, charity Camphill Village Trust will start work on an urban farm in June, close to the site of the original Middlesbrough Farm that existed long before the town became the Ironopolis of the industrial revolution.
Mark Denny, director of operations at Camphill Village Trust, said: “We’re really excited to bring a social farm and garden experience to Middlehaven.
“We have 1.9 hectares on the corner of Stockton Street and Commercial Street. The build will be an L-shaped, single-storey building which on one side will house a shop, café and four craft activity rooms, while on the other side there will be a functional garden with polytunnels, raised beds and a dementia-friendly garden.
He added: “During the day we will offer formal activities for people with learning disabilities, but there will also be a hub for other like-minded organisations and voluntary groups to use – think allotment projects or educational visits.”
One person who will be watching the progress of the social farm with interest is Melissa Brant-Smith, head of Outwood Academy Riverside, Middlesbrough’s first new secondary school for many years. Once at capacity, the school will offer excellent education to 1,050 of the town’s youngsters.
“It’s incredibly exciting for Outwood Riverside to be involved in the regeneration of Middlehaven,” said Melissa. “It’s a wonderful concept and a great chance to put Middlesbrough back on the map.”
Outwood Riverside has been housed in temporary accommodation opposite the headquarters of PD Ports but moves to 100 Russell Street in the new term, and then on to a state-of-the-art building next to Middlesbrough College, under the shadow of the Transporter Bridge, in September 2023.
Melissa continued: “The children are so excited about the new school and have already done projects about the history of the area and been shown where the new build will be.
“To be based in the heart of the community where there is a strong university, digital and arts industry, will offer so many opportunities to them.”
While the school strives for excellence, it also encourages a family ethos surrounded by care and compassion, with focus on each student so they get the highest possible outcome.
Explained Melissa: “Our aim is to be prestigious, but also to be at the heart of the community and serve local families. Our keywords are pride, courage, loyalty and integrity and we will produce young adults who are confident, professional, well-rounded and kind citizens.”
With such a positive infrastructure already at the heart of the Middlehaven development, it’s exciting to project forward and imagine what Middlehaven will look like in five or ten years’ time.
Concluded Martin: “The idea is to breathe new life into an area which has had a chequered past – and we’re doing just that. Now is the perfect time to get involved and give investment. I just can’t help thinking: ‘Wow! Why hasn’t this happened before?’”