Tees

Unused £4.5m Hartlepool performing arts academy seeks new owner

Hartlepool's Northern Lights Academy
Image caption The academy was built on land owned by the Diocese of Durham and rented for a nominal fee

A £4.5m government-funded performing arts academy remains unused five years after it opened.

The Northern Lights Academy, in Hartlepool, Teesside, has a TV and sound studio, a computer suite, two dance studios and a 200-seat theatre.

However, the Headland Development Trust which ran it collapsed in 2012.

Hartlepool Borough Council said it is trying to find groups to take on the facility and has spent about £50,000 mothballing the building.

Mark Patton, the local authority's assistant director for education, learning and skills, said it would be "a crying shame" if the building was not used.

'Clear potential'

"At the time there was clearly a view from central government that things were in place to make it happen," Mr Patton said.

"There is a clear potential here now and we have to work collectively to do something about that."

Image caption It had been hoped youngsters would have their musical talents nurtured

The facility was funded by the Department for Education, which said "all necessary checks were taken by the Big Lottery Fund" which administrated the £4.5m on behalf of the government.

The scheme was intended to provide space for young people and help tackle anti-social behaviour by enabling them to re-engage them with their communities.

Children's services committee chairman Alan Clark said the facility "will have to be self-sustainable because the council doesn't have the resources to fund this building".

St Hild's Church of England School, on whose site the academy was constructed, looked after the building on a short-term basis before the council took over, but the school does not have any liability for the scheme.

Headland's former directors could not be reached for comment.

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