How Freeman Street will be brought back to life with public square, museum, school and parks
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 16 Apr 2018
Civic leaders are pledging to bring Freeman Street back to the heart of Grimsby.
Proposals to transform a redundant area of Freeman Street into a new public square, with social housing, a park, museum and for a new secondary school to be built were outlined at a meeting of The Freemen of Grimsby.
The blueprint for the future of the famous street came as a vision for the wider East Marsh area was outlined in a report providing ideas of what could happen once the six high rise blocks are demolished in the next few weeks.
The report called “After the Towers” was released as groundworks started on the Albion Street site.
The Freemen Quarter workshops at the Business Hub, inside Freeman Street Market. Pictured in front of the boarded up Freeman House office block are, from left, Ian King, planning manager for NELC, Murray Macdonald, chief executive of Lincolnshire Housing Partnership, Rob Walsh, chief executive of NELC, and Mark Hodson, architect and director at Hodson Architects.
North East Lincolnshire Council planning manager, Ian King said: “Freeman Street is an area in transition.”
He added: “It is a big area. It has the ability to create a new identity for the area. Freeman Street has had a negative perception. We have the ability to change that. It is a radical approach.”
He said a a new secondary school could be built.
“At the moment schoolchildren have to go across the town. With the growth of the area it will create demands,” said Mr King.
Artist's impressions of how Freeman Street could look after regeneration (Image: North East Lincolnshire Council)
He said a new museum could house council-owned assets and items which are currently in storage, which could relate to Freeman Street and its heritage linked to Grimsby Docks.
After a High Court ruling in February, the area known as the Agra, which is over three acres in size, is set to be demolished.
It includes the six-storey, Freeman House, which has been the focal point for arson attacks, break-ins and anti-social behaviour.
Architect, Mark Hodson said the shops currently operating in Freeman Street which are part of the site will be refurbished.
Freeman House, Grimsby is to be demolished (Image: Duncan Young)
They include the post office, Boots chemist and a bookmakers.
Mr Hodson said: “They are the starting point. Then there will be demolition of the rest of the buildings.”
He added: “Ownership of the site by the Freemen is key. That means we are starting with a blank page and asking the local community what they would like to see in place of the buildings. We are engaging with partners. It is a real chance for the area to grow.”
The Freemen Quarter workshops at the Business Hub, inside Freeman Street Market. Pictured speaking is Rob Walsh, chief executive of NELC.
Chief Executive of North East Lincolnshire Council, Rob Walsh said the plans for the Agra site on Freeman Street and the demolition of the high rise blocks will fit like a “jig-saw” into the £36.9million Greater Grimsby Town Deal being negotiated with Central Government.
The 10-year town deal is an upgrade plan looking for £36.9 million of Government funds, spread over five years, to match private investment for use in sprucing up the town.
The scheme is aiming to breathe new life into the waterways and docks while creating educational and leisure opportunities, with long-term targets of establishing 5,400 further jobs and building 7,700 homes.
Mr Walsh said: “The Town Deal is a very exciting opportunity for the borough, when we land it.”
He added: “It is a deal that will look like mini devolution.”
Artist's impressions of new buildings in the Freeman Street study (Image: North East Lincolnshire Council)
The chief executive said: “Aspiration is the biggest challenge we have right now.”
Adam Fowler, chief executive of the City of Hull and Humber Environment Forum said: “This is a unique opportunity. Freeman Street is the heart and soul of Grimsby. We want to reinvigorate it.
He told how the East Marsh has a population of 11,408 with a significant percentage of people aged between 20 and 24.
But 42 per cent of East Marsh residents have no qualifications, compared to a borough average of 29 per cent.
Pictured during the Freemen Quarter workshops at the Business Hub, inside Freeman Street Market.
The number of people from the East Marsh who have never worked is 11 per cent when the borough average is four per cent.
The crime figure for East Marsh showed there were 281 offences in February.
Mr Fowler said: “We all need to make positive change. We need to bring the heart back into Freeman Street.”
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