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First look at proposed community and sporting hub

“Bring it on!” – that was the message from the local community as the first images of a new purpose built community centre and sporting hub in east Middlesbrough were unveiled.

The designs – informed by a major community consultation - show that the new building would include a large community hall as well as smaller multi-functional community rooms and kitchen facilities.

A café and other social and meeting spaces are also included.

The works, on the site of the former Southlands Centre, would also see the refurbishment of the existing artificial grass pitch and the remainder of the land used for additional playing field provision.

The plans also show how an extension to the building for purpose-built changing facilities would look.

Middlesbrough Council is also seeking approval to continue working with Ormesby Table Tennis Club to secure external funding which would see an additional purpose built table tennis facility created on the site.

The authority’s Executive Sub-Committee for Property will look at the proposals in a meeting at the Town Hall next week (Wednesday, February 20).

In building up the case for the new facility, a two-stage consultation process has taken place. The first in autumn 2018 involving 100 local people and the second with more than 500 people. Both involved a wide range of residents and community stakeholders in east Middlesbrough.

It has led to the facilities outlined being included in the design and also has informed the proposals over design internally and externally and the preferred opening times.

Asked for “anything else” they wanted to say about the proposals, one said simply “Bring it on!”, another “A place where people can enjoy, learn and specialise”, and “It will be brilliant for the community”.

Others expressed their hopes that it would be a positive attraction for young people and not attract anti-social behaviour, while another person said they were “glad to hear site is not all housing”.

The new facility is budgeted to cost around £1.5m to build and the Council will be seeking expressions of interest from a community-led group to operate the facility.

Cllr Mick Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Communities, said: “I am incredibly proud that this new facility has been designed by the local community for the local community through really positive consultation and engagement with residents and local voices.

“We are still at a relatively early stage in some respects, but what we have now is a design with facilities that local people want, and plans to optimise the wider site for sporting use.

“There is absolutely no reason why together in Middlesbrough we should not all think big and aim for the best and that has what led the thinking in this major community regeneration project.

“The possibility of a new community facility, a purpose built table tennis facility and new sports playing field provision could be unthinkable in these current times of Government enforced austerity.

“However, we will continue to refuse to be defined in that way and will always seek to put forward important, enviable and deliverable schemes such as this project which would be of strong value to both the east Middlesbrough and wider-Middlesbrough community.”