Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Middlehaven Site: What Next?

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Middlehaven Site: What Next?

Article excerpt

THE long-running regeneration of Middlehaven has suffered its latest setback with the collapse of the proposed RiversideOne scheme. SANDY MCKENZIE assessed the wider project's progress.

THE redevelopment of Middlehaven has been littered with disappointments and false dawns. And the announcement that BioRegional Quintain (BRQ) is pulling out of its pounds 200m RiversideOne scheme is only the latest setback to befall regeneration of the old Middlesbrough Dock area.

Yet confidence remains that the transformation of the Middlehaven area will continue.

It was six years ago that BRQ was chosen to take forward the development from a "very exciting shortlist". And when it unveiled its plans in 2006 they were hailed as "a fantastic development opportunity".

But Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon said he understood BRQ's reasoning in pulling out and its desire to focus on its London interests.

"Despite the economic downturn I am extremely confident that other developers can be found," he added.

"In fact, I believe they will be lining up to become involved in the Middlehaven project.

"When one door closes another one always opens and this is a great opportunity for the many developers looking for new business in the Northern area."

Stephen Catchpole, managing director at regeneration body Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU), agreed.

"The regeneration of Middlehaven is an important part of the wider redevelopment of Tees Valley area," he said. "TVU has full confidence in the scheme and will continue to work alongside our partners to support its delivery."

RiversideOne was unveiled in 2006, with plans for a project that would be the largest carbon neutral scheme in the UK.

It would provide 750 homes designed by top architects, one million square feet of quality development, shops, bars, cafes and restaurants, high-spec offices and a luxury hotel.

But the only building that will be completed is the first of the residential blocks. CIAC (Community in a Cube) is almost finished and will provide 80 flats. They have been advertised at prices starting at pounds 79,000 for a studio apartment.

Its design reflected the architectural ambitions displayed in the Middlehaven masterplan produced by Will Alsop.

And the challenge now is to find a new developer to take Middlehaven forward in a way that - at the least - matches BRQ's ambitions.

The homes that were part of RiversideOne were also a major component in the forward plans for housing provision in Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough's Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell said the developer's decision to pull out of Middlehaven was a sad blow.

"It is as a direct result of the economic slowdown and the financial crisis and we can only think the crisis ends shortly and we will get further redevelopment," he said. …

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