Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Don't Sacrifice Teesside Park to Protect the Town Centre, MP Demands

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Don't Sacrifice Teesside Park to Protect the Town Centre, MP Demands

Article excerpt

A STINGING attack on Stockton Council's regeneration policy has been launched by Stockton South Conservative MP James Wharton.

He says the need to bring new life to Stockton High Street should not hold back redevelopment of the rest of the borough.

His commenrts come in the wake of Stockton Council's planning committee refusing consent for a proposal to redevelop the site of the former Springs fitness club at Teesside Shopping Park.

Mr Wharton said that Springs, which sat empty at the entrance to Teesside Park, was an eyesore, overgrown with weeds and boarded up.

Athenaeum Developments Limited (ADL) wanted to redevelop the old Springs Health Club.

The proposed development would have seen the former gym demolished to make way for three separate buildings - a Nando's restaurant, a Harvester family pub and a 66-bed Travelodge hotel.

It would have created 60 permanent new jobs and a further 60 during construction.

But Stockton Council's planning officers recommended the plans be refused. They considered it "would have a negative impact on both Stockton's and Middlesbrough's town centres and the wider regeneration agenda".

Mr Wharton said: "This is the first time I've ever heard of a planning application being rejected because it would make an area more attractive! This is a prime example of council policies distorting priorities and failing to deliver for local people.

"Deliberately turning away investment unless it is in the High Street is costing jobs and damaging Stockton's economic recovery. Stockton's planners need to get a grip."

Mr Wharton said it was a disgrace to recommend the development did not get planning consent just because people considered they would rather see it in the High Street. This is not the right approach to attract investment for our area.

"We shouldn't be saying no when someone comes along and offers to invest millions in our community, especially when they would be removing a long standing eyesore at the same time. …

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