Transforming Captain Cook Square into a regional leisure destination takes another step closer this week as major public realm works get underway.

Middlesbrough Council is spearheading multi-million pound plans to bring a host of leisure and entertainment venues to the outdoor shopping centre, and has announced that North East based Esh Construction will carry out the work as part of the £1.5m upgrade.

Opening this summer will be two brand new, large scale entertainment venues – Level X, a bowling alley and go-karting venue and The Wired Lobby, an esports and gaming arena, which have taken over the former TJ Hughes and Peacocks stores respectively.

And from this week, work will begin to remodel the square with new lighting, seating and artwork and open it up to more public events.

The work will include:

  • Jet washing and repainting exterior walls, which will begin later this week and last for five weeks. After consultation with tenants, disruption will be kept to a minimum.
  • Upgraded new seating and street furniture will be installed and lighting fixtures will be replaced – including new lights criss-crossed overhead between buildings, to create a similar night-time effect as on Baker and Bedford Streets.
  • The façade of the bus station facing into Captain Cook Square will be transformed with new cladding and lighting.
  • Local artists will contribute to a new mural in the tunnel between the square and the multi-storey car park, which will be further enhanced with LED lighting.
  • The car park itself will open later for those using leisure facilities into the night.
  • Gates will be installed at the Grange Road side of the development, after consultation with ward councillors, which will be locked at night to encourage those visiting leisure attractions to exit Captain Cook Square by Linthorpe Road or Newport Road.

The council took over Captain Cook Square and the House of Fraser building in 2020, and followed it up with the purchase of the Cleveland Centre last year.

Historically, the town centre has been over-reliant on retail but the aim is to rebalance the economy by bringing more businesses and attract thousands more people to come and live in the centre.

The plans for Captain Cook Square formed part of a successful funding bif to the Future High Streets Fund.

Mayor of Middlesbrough Andy Preston said: “It’s great to see progress on the project, which will be fantastic for our town centre.

“This work will help transform Captain Cook Square. Our strategy to regenerate the town centre is to get more people living and working here, and attracting the best leisure attractions around is one of the best ways to do that.

“We’ve stepped in and we’re making amazing things happen. And there are so many more exciting things to come.”

Steven Garrigan, Divisional Director at Esh Construction, said: “As a North East contractor, we are delighted to be bringing our expertise to this public realm project which is key in the transformation plans for Captain Cook Square.

“The installation of new lighting and street furniture, along with a decoration and upgrade works to the shop facades and bus station will provide a glimpse into the future of this upcoming leisure destination.”