Potential plans for future of landmark 100-year-old Crown pub in Middlesbrough

Crown has stood empty since 2015. Credit: Google Maps

A decaying pub that has been vacant for years could be snapped up by the council.

A report published ahead of Middlesbrough Council's executive meeting on Tuesday, January 24 has revealed plans to buy one of the town's most "prominent and iconic buildings, which has suffered vacancy and decay".

While it is not named, it is understood that this is the Crown pub on Linthorpe Road.

The former pub and club, which was built for Elite Cinemas in 1923, has been standing empty since its owners abruptly closed the doors in January 2015. Ideas for the space following early consultation include an indoor marketplace, educational spaces, or a cultural performance venue.

The building has private owners who the council is currently in talks with and it is hoped that a compulsory purchase order - which allows the local authority to buy the building without the owners' consent - could be avoided.

According to the report, the council is confident the former pub will change hands before the end of March this year. A bid has been made to the government's Levelling Up Fund for cash to transform the Crown and the town's empty House of Fraser building - a decision is expected on whether this was successful on Thursday.

The local authority has stepped in as the costs to repair the heritage asset, which is on the town's Local List, means there is no reasonable prospect of the private sector being able to bring it back into commercial use without some public sector cash. The council says it wants the scheme to be self-sustaining, publicly accessible and add value to the area.

Since the pub's closure in 2015, there have been a number of proposals for the site but none have made it off the ground. After it shut its doors for good it was bought by property developer Cobro from Stonegate Pub Company.

In April 2015, the council passed an Article 4 direction to stop the building being demolished. A year later, Fawley Watson Booth chartered surveyors had purchased the building, acting as agents for Capital and Regional. It was then sold on again but the current owner is unknown.

In 2017, councillors heard about plans that would have split the building into three levels, with shops, leisure venues and a large Chinese restaurant. However, nothing ever progressed.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority recently announced it would be investing £8m into Gresham in the area behind the Crown pub. The scheme is in the early stages but the TVCA is drawing up plans for a complex of apartments, as well as townhouses, and food and drink outlets.

There will also be a new facility to support emerging firms and talks are already happening about a leisure venue to support Teesside University and wider Middlesbrough.

The council has bought up a number of buildings key to the town centre's regeneration over the last few years. In 2020, it bought Captain Cook Square for £8m and House of Fraser for £1m using cash from the Future High Streets Fund.

Last year, the council snapped up the Cleveland Centre for £12m. That is £73m less than the £85m it sold for less than six years ago. At the time, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: "High streets everywhere are having a tough time and this savvy move makes sure we can be in control of our own destiny.

"I'm determined that we won't simply stand by and see what happens. When there's a solid business case to intervene, we will."

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