Breweries and cinema part of vision for key town square

A Cinema, bowling alley and even a brewery form part of the bold new £9m vision for Captain Cook Square in central Middlesbrough – described by mayor Andy Preston as “the key that will unlock the town’s potential for decades to come.”

Major changes to Captain Cook Square will boost the town’s economy for years to come, according to a report to senior councillors.

Middlesbrough Council’s acquisition last year of the strategically important Captain Cook Square was the latest phase in a bold strategy to secure the long-term future of the town centre.

Now the council’s Executive is to consider the proposed investment of more than £9m from the successful Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) bid to create a vibrant leisure and residential hub at heart of the town.

The aim is to re-balance Captain Cook Square’s 400,000 sq ft of predominantly retail space to a more sustainable mix of leisure and commercial uses.

The project has already attracted considerable interest from regional and national leisure operators, with a number of proposals put forward including:

• Bowling alley with associated leisure attractions
• Boutique cinema
• Small/medium-scale breweries
• Restaurants and eateries, with proposals to maximise outdoor space
• Event hosting – temporary/seasonal use of central outdoor area

In addition to the Captain Cook Square revamp, Middlesbrough Council’s £14.1m FHSF allocation will also see investment in residential property (£3.5m), transport improvements (£1.05m) and cultural development and business support (more than £500k).

Bringing more people to live in central Middlesbrough will also increase footfall in the town centre, attract and retain skills and talent and help foster a more balanced leisure economy.

Accessibility to key facilities in the square including the bus station and car park will be paramount.

Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston said: “It’s been the toughest of years, but the future still looks bright for our high street.

“The world has changed massively, but we’re changing with it, and the Future High Streets Fund is the key that will unlock Middlesbrough’s potential for decades to come.

“By building a new urban community in the heart of town, we can boost our population and create an amazing town centre for the 21st century that will bring in visitors and spending.

“The interest it’s already attracting speaks volumes about its potential, and will pave the way for the creation of one of the best leisure and culture hubs anywhere in the UK.

“It really is the game-changer that will underpin the town’s future success and prosperity.”

• A report on the Future High Streets Fund and proposed investment in Captain Cook Square will be considered at a meeting of Middlesbrough Council’s Executive on Tuesday, April 13.