A “game-changing” vision to reinvent Middlesbrough town centre will gather pace in the early part of this year.

Middlesbrough Council has received £14.1m to boost population and create a regional leisure hub following a bid to the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.

Mayor Andy Preston said the Council had put forward a “brilliant case” to government.

Mr Preston said: “We’re going to boost our population, broaden the demographic and design a leisure hub that will bring visitors and spending to Middlesbrough.

“This cash from central government will help us unlock Middlesbrough town centre’s incredible potential. We’re going to rebalance and reinvent the centre of town so we have the right mix of homes, retail and leisure. Families and young professionals who move to our town centre will have great things to do right on their doorsteps.”

The announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government comes after the Council purchased Captain Cook Square earlier this year.

Mr Preston said the Council was in “advanced discussions” with potential leisure operators to transform parts of the square.

“This funding announcement means we can crack on with our vision for that area. We can now hit the ground running in the New Year. Our plans for the best leisure and culture attractions for miles around will attract more visitors to Middlesbrough, supporting local jobs and families. This will be a game-changer.

“This is all about future proofing Middlesbrough and building a town centre that will provide jobs for years to come.”

The Council’s bid to the Future High Streets Fund envisaged 650 new town centre homes for around 1,500 residents.

Retail space will be converted to ensure the town has the right mix to attract footfall and spending.