Tees

Unused £4.5m Hartlepool performing arts academy to open

Hartlepool's Northern Lights Academy
Image caption The academy was built with funds from the Department of Education

A mothballed £4.5m performing arts centre is set to open after a council agreed to take it over.

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

It was built in 2011 from Department of Education funding but the group behind it closed before it could open.

Hartlepool Borough Council had previously sought someone to take it over but has now decided to buy it.

The centre on King Oswy Drive is due to open in September after councillors agreed to buy the freehold from the Diocese of Durham.

Image caption The council said Hartlepool schools have agreed to use the centre

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said: "We plan to turn it into a centre of excellence for technical training for creative industries.

"We will target emerging technologies and industrial growth sectors, including digital media, with a view to developing a supply of suitably skilled and capable young people to form the creative workforce of the future."

The council, which spent £50,000 on mothballing the building, has not said how much it will be paying for the centre but that there would be a "very small nominal consideration".

Mr Akers-Belcher said there would be "no financial outlay" for the council, adding: "It has taken a lot of time and hard work to get to this position but we now have a fantastic opportunity to finally realise the huge potential of the NLA."

In a report, the council said schools in Hartlepool have agreed to use the centre while several other groups have also said they would be interested in it.

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