Rejected health hub move 'can go ahead'

Cleveland Centre exterior
The Cleveland Centre is a busy shopping complex in the centre of Middlesbrough [BBC]

Plans to relocate a central health hub can go ahead after a council realised it did not need permission.

Middlesbrough Council said it was moving the Live Well centre, which provides drug and alcohol services, from the Dundas Arcade shopping centre to the nearby Cleveland Centre.

In May, the Middlesbrough Development Corporation's (MDC) board rejected the plans, raising concerns about crime and the erosion of retail space.

However, the council said the move can go ahead as the plan is a "permitted development" under government planning rules.

While external changes to buildings do require approval, the relocation of the centre does not require permission from MDC, which is the planning authority for parts of Middlesbrough, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

A council spokesman said work has been going on "behind the scenes" between officers at the Tees Valley Combined Authority and the council's planning agents.

He added: "We’re pleased to say we’ve now reached a resolution to allow us to move forward and achieve our aim of improving public health in Middlesbrough."

The centre will also offer mental health support, stop smoking services and assistance for young people with disabilities.

The initial application to move the hub was rejected by MDC board members including Tees Valley Conservative mayor Ben Houchen, who had the casting vote when the board was divided on the issue.

Lord Houchen then said he disagreed with moving drug and alcohol services "slap bang in the middle of the retail space and opposite Centre Square".

In recognition of Lord Houchen's concerns, the council said it was considering moving drug and alcohol treatment services to a "stand alone facility elsewhere".

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