In 2015 the Economic Regeneration and Transport Scrutiny Panel carried out a review of regeneration in Albert Road, Middlesbrough. As part of that review, the Commercial Property Director from Jomast provided evidence to the Panel. Jomast, was a local property development company, and owned several properties on Albert Road.
The Economic Development and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel had invited Jomasts representative to the meeting to provide an update on works completed in Albert Road since 2015. Middlesbrough Councils Head of Economic Growth and the newly appointed Town Centre Manager were also in attendance at the meeting. The Town Centre Manager had a strategic role ensuring that there was a co-ordinated approach to all the Council services and businesses in the Town Centre.
Prior to the meeting, the Panel had undertaken a site visit to Albert Road to view the regeneration works taking place.
Properties recently refurbished by Jomast included:
Boulevard, at 8 Albert Road, a two-storey bar and restaurant which was due to open next week.
The Sun Alliance office block at 16 to 26 Albert Road.
Wilsons Courtyard - a block of nine flats which were now occupied.
Properties currently being refurbished by Jomast included:
Prudential House, which had been re-roofed, had new windows fitted and the frontage was being given a facelift with a thorough clean. The scaffolding was due to be taken down by the end of January 2018.
15 to 25 Albert Road, a total of four buildings, were similarly getting a full clean, new roof and new windows. The scaffolding was due to be taken down by the end of March 2018.
Copies of architects drawings detailing the front elevations of 15 to 25 Albert Road and the floor plans for those buildings were tabled at the meeting. From the front, the buildings would look complete, however there was still work required to complete the insides. A row of garages along the back of the buildings had been demolished and some parking spaces would be created. Access was required for refuse vehicles.
It was anticipated that the ground floors would be let as office space. Several companies that had outgrown the nearby BOHO development were looking for suitable premises. Other retail and leisure uses, such as smaller operators similar to those in Bedford Street might also be attracted. However, the aim was not to move existing businesses from Baker and Bedford Street to Albert Road.
The upper floors would be divided into seven two bedroomed flats. Whilst Jomast had a standard fit out for this type of accommodation, they would remain as shells for the time being until the market was right to let them. Jomasts plan was to lift the street scene by renovating the buildings frontages and ensure the ground floors were ready for occupation by Quarter 3 this year.
The ground floor units would consist of serviced boxes with four white walls so that they could be tailored to the clients needs. This section of Albert Road was in an Enterprise Zone and support was available, particularly for Digital businesses, in the form of financial packages for broadband and reduced business rates.
Reference was made to the units under the A66 next to Exchange Square and it was confirmed that those properties were currently in private ownership.
It was noted that it had taken longer for the refurbishment work to start on Jomasts properties than had been planned in 2015. It was explained that the main reason was due to the building of the nearby £5.5 million Premier Inn which was due to open in a few weeks time. Negotiations between the Council and the Premier Inn had taken a lot longer than expected to complete. In addition Jomast was working on a new building for Marks and Spencer in Northumberland. Jomast operated throughout the north east and works had to be planned, funded and prioritised.
In the previous review it was recommended that improvements to the public realm were considered and that street cleansing standards were improved. The Head of Economic Growth informed the Panel that the Council was currently looking at re-landscaping this section of Albert Road and implementing improvements such as replacing the trees, removing unnecessary signage and installing new litter bins. In relation to cleanliness, the Vice Chair reported that following the site visit she had contacted the Director of Environment and Commercial Services and requested that a deep clean of the pavements in that area as a matter of urgency. The Vice Chair suggested that business owners could be requested to keep the area in front of their own properties clean and litter free.
Reference was also made to the lack of car parking available on Albert Road. The Panel was informed that a Car Parking Strategy for the whole of Middlesbrough was currently under development. Phase one of the review would consider all the car parking available and what improvements could be made in terms of the environment and technology. Phase two would consider the impact of new office developments. The Strategy was due to be completed by the end of March 2018.
Exchange Square, at the end of Albert Road and near to the Rail Station was cited as a potential area for providing additional car parking. However, it was also noted that the Zetland Car Park was within a short walking distance of Albert Road and spaces were always available during the day. It was also important to consider the journey from the car parks to the main thoroughfares in terms of a safe, well-lit and pleasing environment.
The Council had recently worked with Splash Utilities, a company who had moved into Middlehaven House, and assisted them to provide season passes for car parking for their employees. Another potential initiative was to offer employees season passes with a guaranteed parking space - for example on the top floor of the Zetland Car Park.
It was acknowledged that Albert Road was one of the main bus routes through the town centre but that it would benefit from less traffic and more paved areas to encourage new businesses such as restaurants and cafes. It was also suggested that pedestrianising the area could be considered as an option. The Town Centre Manager explained that as part of her role she was in discussion with bus operators regarding bus routes and there were no drop off or pick up points on that stretch of Albert Road.
On behalf of the Panel, the Chair thanked the Officers and the Commercial Property Director from Jomast for attending the meeting and invited him to attend Panel at some point in the future to update Members with regard to other Jomast developments in the Middlesbrough area.
AGREED that the information provided was received and noted.