Levelling Up: The projects which are transforming this North East seaside town

·7-min read
(From top left) Redcar seafront, Redcar Railway Station, how the new Regent Cinema will look, and Westgate in Guisborough
(From top left) Redcar seafront, Redcar Railway Station, how the new Regent Cinema will look, and Westgate in Guisborough

PLANS to transform the North East seaside town of Redcar are well underway - and locals are positive of further funding for improvements to help turn the town around.

Redcar and Cleveland Council's bid in the government's Levelling Up Fund was rebuffed by the Government last year but the authority's leader councillor Mary Lanigan, an independent, has vowed to return with a better proposal in the Spring.

The "ambitious" proposal submitted last Summer asked for:

  • £5.5m to redevelop Redcar central station

  • £2.9m to regenerate Guisborough town centre

  • £5m for new leisure facilities in Eston

  • £4m for a new footbridge at South Bank railway station

  • £3.5m for a pedestrian and cycle route between South Bank and Nunthorpe

  • £4m for a pedestrian and cycle route between Skelton and Brotton

  • £2m for the regeneration of Coatham, Redcar

  • £5m for a new roundabout junction and road infrastructure improvements in Newham Grange, Middlesbrough [in partnership with Middlesbrough Council]

  • £7m for urgent highway repairs including bridges in east Cleveland

  • £1m to develop a business case for track and station works on the East Cleveland and Esk Valley railway lines.

But despite the rejection, Redcar was awarded £25m in June last year as part of the Government’s Town Deal programme. It was also announced prior to the budget that £310m was separately being made available for transport priorities in the Tees Valley.

Read more: Billingham locals say town is suffering due to lack of funding

In partnership with the Redcar Town Deal Board the council is pulling together detailed plans for a number of projects, including the scheme to link the High Street to the seafront.

Other projects include improving how the High Street looks and functions, introducing new landscaping, street furniture, lighting and signage – as well as more greenery to improve the area.

The £9.6m rebuild of Redcar's Regent cinema, due to open later this year, will breathe new life into the seafront.

The Northern Echo: The current state of Redcar Railway Station. Picture: The Northern Echo
The Northern Echo: The current state of Redcar Railway Station. Picture: The Northern Echo

The current state of Redcar Railway Station. Picture: The Northern Echo

The Northern Echo: One of the platforms at Redcar Railway Station. Picture: The Northern Echo
The Northern Echo: One of the platforms at Redcar Railway Station. Picture: The Northern Echo

One of the platforms at Redcar Railway Station. Picture: The Northern Echo

A redevelopment of Redcar Railway Station remains a key priority of local politicians, however. The station's main building is currently derelict and plans are underway to revive the gateway into the town.

"This part of Redcar is going to be really transformed over the next few years," says an emphatic Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, "and hopefully we will be able to look back see how it's been transformed for the better"

"The other key thing is that a lot of local businesses are starting to revamp areas of the town. I always find it frustrating when you get to Redcar on the train and you see the run down old station building and then you walk into town and you see the old Clarendon pub and then on the high street there's the huge empty M&S.

"Part of the regeneration of Redcar is about 'how do we do the big things to make sure the little things fall into place?' And this includes making Station Road a better place for people to visit, using businesses to unlock empty buildings and regenerating the town centre."

Read more: Hartlepool waiting for levelling up cash from Boris Johnson

The Northern Echo: Conservative MP for Redcar Jacob Young. Picture: The Northern Echo
The Northern Echo: Conservative MP for Redcar Jacob Young. Picture: The Northern Echo

Conservative MP for Redcar Jacob Young. Picture: The Northern Echo

It is also hoped some of the schemes outlined in the initial Levelling Up Fund bid can be completed with alternative investment.

Mr Young said: "We didn't achieve our Levelling Up Fund bid but the Tees Valley Combine Authority got £310m to spend on transport infrastructure. I'm certain that some projects are going to be delivered but through this separate fund.

"We're still going to be able to deliver improvements to transport, but also we now get another opportunity of a second bite of the cherry with a different bid and hopefully we will be successful with that."

The Northern Echo: Development is planned on empty land in Coatham, Redcar. Picture: The Northern Echo
The Northern Echo: Development is planned on empty land in Coatham, Redcar. Picture: The Northern Echo

Development is planned on empty land in Coatham, Redcar. Picture: The Northern Echo

Elsewhere in the town, a coastal activity hub at Coatham hopes to provide the infrastructure to support outdoor activities, water sports and related events.

These plans would build on the major new leisure project in the Coatham area after receiving £750,000 Government funding and includes a new hotel, adventure golf site and play area.

Separately, there are also ambitious plans for a 5,000 capacity Coatham Arena - a new events venue on the site of the former Redcar Bowl - with funding from the private sector if the council is prepared to lease the land and grant planning permission.

Steven Green, a local property boss and mind coach, regularly updates residents on social media of local developments and new investment.

In one emphatic post, he said: “We shouldn’t settle for GETTING BY.

“I dream for us being a place the rest of the country stands up and watches in awe how Redcar & Cleveland lead the way.

“We deserve to have a full high street again with bigger names but we must bring people OUTSIDE of the area. We do that by bringing back to life the one thing we were known for around the UK where the biggest and best bands travelled because of the atmosphere and Teesside spirit.

“We are on the way back up. We have passionate leaders. Let’s not accept playing small anymore time to raise the bar as a whole."

Read more: Government Levelling Up policy still unclear without white paper

Councillors also hope to received £2.9m to improve Guisborough town centre. On Westgate, the market town's high street, the area is filled with people visiting the numerous independent and national chain businesses during a busy lunchtime period.

The town has seen its fair share of empty units over the past few years but new businesses are steadily opening in the town. A new craft beer bottle shop and tap room has been hailed as "trendy" and "an asset to the high street" while locals can also expect a new Scandinavian bakery soon.

The Northern Echo: One of just a few empty units in Guisborough. Picture: The Northern Echo
The Northern Echo: One of just a few empty units in Guisborough. Picture: The Northern Echo

One of just a few empty units in Guisborough. Picture: The Northern Echo

Back in Redcar, and once you list all of the ongoing developments and proposals in the town, levelling up is already in action, according to Mr Young.

"We've had people try to make political traction over the fact Yarm and Eaglescliffe (the Government approved funding to improve both towns) got their funding but Redcar didn't. But the reality is the Yarm bid was better for a whole host of reasons because it told a story and was focussed on a small geographical area, and their projects linked together.

"With our bid, it wasn't a story and they weren't necessarily linked in terms of how we were using the bid to level up each area."

"For the Tees Valley, and specifically Redcar, of any constituency in the country I would argue we've had the most investment coming in from the Government. That's purely because of the Teesworks site, which has had millions of pounds investment.

"There's a little bit of perspective we miss when we focus on one element of funding that we've not got.

"There was a political story that was told about other areas getting it when Redcar didn't, but actually when you consider the money that's came into Redcar over the past five years versus anywhere else in the country, on balance, people will recognise we're doing everything we can to level up Redcar."

The Northern Echo: Redcar & Cleveland Leisure and Community Heart is a sign of how local facilities can be transformed with investment. Picture: The Northern Echo
The Northern Echo: Redcar & Cleveland Leisure and Community Heart is a sign of how local facilities can be transformed with investment. Picture: The Northern Echo

Redcar & Cleveland Leisure and Community Heart is a sign of how local facilities can be transformed with investment. Picture: The Northern Echo

Cllr Lanigan also praised the current investment in the town and remains ambitious about future funding despite last year's rejection.

"Whilst this is regrettable there is a further opportunity to submit a revised bid in spring 2022 considering the outcome of the Levelling Up white paper.

"The council has engaged with Government on why the Round 1 bids were unsuccessful and is now currently considering this and developing revised bids utilising external Government funding to engage consultancy support to assist with the bid submission.

"Whilst the details of the bids are not fixed yet the council will be looking to prepare robust bids to the next round which will seek to deliver projects which will deliver real change and level up key communities in the borough."

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