Date: 23rd July 2021

Excitement grows around Stockton Waterfront development with new plans announced for community focused facilities

Exciting plans to reshape the development of Council facilities have been announced, including the development of a new leisure centre alongside a new library, customer service and register office building on the Stockton Waterfront site, as well as the opportunity to purchase Dunedin House as Council headquarters.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is taking the opportunity to relocate its public services to the southern end of the High Street, investing in brand new town centre facilities that are community focused and promote health, leisure and wellbeing.

The new leisure centre would replace Splash, which is in need of significant investment, providing a more modern facility in Stockton town centre.

This would include modern pool facilities as well as a gym and studios with flexible spaces for therapeutic rehabilitation and health uses, alongside a new library, customer service centre, register office and flexible space for civic and public-facing business meetings on the southern end of this site.

The Council is set to purchase Dunedin House, located on Teesdale Business Park, as its Municipal office accommodation, filling an existing building that is half empty instead of building a new facility at the southern end of the High Street with the resulting cost saving being reinvested in the additional facilities.

Discussions for a new NHS facility to be built on the Stockton Waterfront site to meet the needs of North Tees and Hartlepool hospitals NHS Trust to move non-clinical, administration and some diagnostic services to a town centre location have also taken place in parallel, forming an exciting opportunity to create new uses and enable further development in the town centre.

The Council’s Cabinet will consider these proposals when they meet on Thursday 29th July.

If approved, this development would provide an exciting combination of health, wellbeing and active leisure in the town centre, complementing the Council’s existing plans to create an urban park to connect the High Street to the river.

The previously approved £32.3 million is being proposed to deliver the new leisure centre and Council facilities, as well as funding the acquisition and redevelopment of Dunedin House and office accommodation in Billingham.

The relocation of key public services would drive footfall into the heart of the town centre and maintain the scale of the planned development on the site that went before a Cabinet meeting in February 2020.

Councillor Nigel Cooke, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing, said: “We’ve been working on refining proposals for Stockton Waterfront and huge opportunities were presented that have allowed us to have a change in focus for this development.

“The purchase of Dunedin House provides a more efficient solution to our accommodation strategy. It would be refurbished to a modern and energy efficient standard, bringing the largely empty building back into full use and is a significant cost saving.

“Dunedin House’s close proximity with full occupancy, along with our commitment to a new office in Billingham, is certain to be a significant footfall generator in both town centres.

“A new leisure centre to sit alongside the Council’s front of house services would create a real destination point and replace the current, tired facility and allow a wider offer and size of membership to grow beyond the already successful Splash.

“With interest materialising from North Tees and Hartlepool hospitals NHS Trust, it’s a huge show of faith in our ambitious plans for our six town centres, with all funding requirements being met by them. It’s a fantastic opportunity and shows clear desire for public and private sector partners to be the heart of Stockton.”

Since the Council’s plans for Stockton Waterfront were revealed, a number of third--party organisations have expressed interest in occupying space on the site or to bring forward additional development above that planned, with interest remaining positive.

Further detailed work on options for the redevelopment of the current Municipal Buildings and Splash site along with the remainder of the Council’s office accommodation will be undertaken in the coming months with updates to be presented at future Cabinet meeting.

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Sam Withers