New flagship Waterfront leisure attraction approved

Published Thursday, 30th January 2020

Councillors have agreed unanimously to the replacement of Hartlepool's ageing Mill House Leisure Centre with a flagship multi-million pound development on the town's Waterfront site.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Finance and Policy Committee approved the proposal as part of a huge investment in leisure facilities across the town - with Brierton Sports Centre, Headland Sports Hall, Grayfields Recreation Ground and Pavilion and Hartlepool Indoor Bowls Club also earmarked for improvement.

Residents will start to see improvements to facilities as early as next year and it is hoped to have the new Waterfront attraction up and running in 2024.

Councillor Shane Moore, Leader of the Council and Chair of the Finance and Policy Committee, said: “This is fantastic news and the decision to build a new bespoke leisure attraction within the marina is a key milestone in the town’s history.

“The Mill House Leisure Centre is getting to the end of its useful life and I am delighted that we are now in a position – with funding already in place - to be able to create a leisure centre fit for the 21st century for the people of Hartlepool.

“Together, all of the schemes represent one of the biggest investments in the town in recent times and their impact on the lives of local people will be profound.

“They will provide us with modern, high-quality leisure venues and facilities that will bring with them a range of health, social, environmental and economic benefits.”

The new Waterfront development was one of four options put forward for the replacement of Mill House Leisure Centre and the intention is to have a recreational attraction that will draw in both local visitors and tourists. Its facilities will include three swimming pools - one of 25 metres with eight lanes, another of 20 metres with four lanes and a recreation pool with flumes, a health suite, fitness studios, a gym, a family play facility, a café/refreshments area and function rooms.

The development will sit alongside other improvements to the wider Waterfront site, including the creation of a new events space which will enable the Council to build on the success of the annual Hartlepool Waterfront Festival.

The bulk of the funding for the developments will come from the Council’s recently-approved Capital Investment Programme which includes significant sums of money provided by the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA).

“A lot of hard work has been required to get to this point, and I’d like to thank everyone involved for their efforts to date. It is also important to acknowledge the support of the TVCA, without which we might not be in this position,” added Councillor Moore.

The improvements to leisure facilities also approved by the Finance and Policy Committee, which will be subject to further public consultation and development, are:

Brierton Sports Centre

The centre will be re-branded as Brierton Sports Complex with a focus on outdoor facilities, including improvements to the tennis courts and the installation of floodlighting. Around two acres of surplus land is to be sold for development, with the proceeds being used to fund some of the re-development costs.

Headland Sports Hall

The existing sports hall is to be sub-divided into two activity spaces which will be used for fitness, sport and, potentially, a commercial offer providing a unique selling point for the centre and attracting customers from across Hartlepool. Options include the provision of a climbing wall.

Hartlepool Indoor Bowls Club

The estimated cost of building a new stand-alone facility means it is not a viable option, so improvements will be made to the existing building which opened in 1972, and a new lease agreed with the Hartlepool Indoor Bowls Association.

Grayfields Recreation Ground and Pavilion

The site will be improved and the artificial grass pitch reinstated before the opportunity for a community asset transfer to an external organisation is advertised.