By ALEX METCALFE, Local Democracy Reporter
A LONG-AWAITED bid to bring an indoor ski centre to Middlesbrough has been given the thumbs up by officials.
Detailed proposals for the £30m snow centre, at Middlehaven Dock, have been approved by Middlesbrough Council – with a 165m ski slope, a beginner run, shops, restaurants and cafés all in the offing.
The indoor ski facility will be built on a seven-acre brownfield site next to the Grade II listed clock tower, Temenos and Middlesbrough College.
It will have one large building and two small pavilion buildings alongside car parking and landscaping.
“Substantial” complementary sporting facilities are also part of the plans – with documents showing spaces for a “ten pin bowling tenant” and a “trampolining and climbing attraction” underneath the ski slope.
Project leaders expect the centre to open in 2022.
A spokesperson for developers Subzero hailed the approval “a ray of light in difficult times”.
“Now we can make progress behind the scenes so we don’t lose valuable time,” she added.
“We are pressing ahead and we hope that the agreement of planning permission shows the high level of commitment we have towards this project.
“More than £750,000 has already been spent getting it to this stage.”
Detailed blueprints were lodged at the council in December – with delegated powers used to give the plans the green light due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Bosses have forecast the centre will bring more than two million visitors to Middlesbrough per year.
Subzero say the necessary land deals, financial backers, operators and partners have now been sorted out.
The firm’s spokeswoman added: “It would be great to see the public get behind us too in these tough times.
“The design of the building, which has now been approved, looks amazing and fits well into the historic site.
“It will add to the list of ambitious and innovative schemes in the pipeline for Middlesbrough.”
Diggers began work surveying the ground at the Middlehaven site in April last year.
Plans for a snow centre were first suggested in 2014, with an outline planning application approved in March 2017.
Last year, it was revealed during a call-in meeting that Middlesbrough Council had agreed to buy the land at Middlehaven from Government body Homes England for £840,000.
The aim was for the council to sell the land on to the developer.
When built, the centre will be one of just a handful in the UK.
And its approval comes after a raft of transport improvements at Middlehaven were signed off at Middlesbrough Town Hall earlier this month.
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: “This is a key milestone in a project that has huge potential for one of the most important regeneration sites in the whole region.
“Life will return to normal in the coming months, and we’ll need to throw our weight behind developments like this that will help Middlehaven fulfil its true potential.
“Amazing things are already being achieved by the “Digital City”, and the snow centre can act as a further catalyst to bring people to the area and attract future investment.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen added: “While we rightly focus all our efforts and resources on fighting the coronavirus, this news gives us all something to look forward to.
“The new snow centre will be massive for Middlesbrough, helping the regeneration of Middlehaven and creating jobs while giving even more people an excuse to visit, have fun and spend money in the town.”