The first part of an ambitious multi-million pound project part-funded by the Tees Valley Combined Authority to regenerate a key area of Hartlepool is now underway.
Hartlepool Borough Council (HBC) is behind the initiative which will transform the Church Street area into a hub for creative industries.
Work has now started on one of the key parts of the scheme – the conversion of the Grade 2-listed former Post Office building in Whitby Street into a new £3m business centre – which HBC will run with the support of Cleveland College of Art and Design.
Called The BIS, the centre will encourage business start-ups in the creative industries sector and provide specialist support for them. The conversion is being funded by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
Local firm Gus Robinson Developments will undertake the work, which will involve refurbishment and extension of the Grade 2-listed building to create 28 studio units of various sizes for businesses, including a mix of workshops and office space.
Other facilities will include meeting rooms and a shared social space which can also be used for events and exhibitions.
Pat Chapman, Vice Principal (Employability and External Relations) at Cleveland College of Art & Design, said: “The BIS studio facilities are a significant step forward as the studios provide a stepping stone environment for graduates setting up their own creative business, where they will continue to get business development and support from the College and the Council.
“In addition, whilst more than 80 percent of CCAD graduates stay in the North-East, there has been a gap in the market for suitable workspace in Hartlepool and the wider Tees Valley. The BIS will ensure that more creative businesses and graduates will locate and stay in Hartlepool – a real boost for the local economy.”
Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said: “Supporting start-up businesses, which can create employment and be part of the economic growth of the Tees Valley, is essential and this new centre will be a valuable resource for the area.
“The Tees Valley has a strong digital and creative sector, led by talented and skilled local people who will benefit greatly from this important regeneration project.”
The BIS is expected to open its doors next summer. It’s part of wider plans by the Council and its partners to regenerate key areas of the town under the banner of the Hartlepool Vision.