Hartlepool Borough Council wants to attract more film and TV productions to the town by turning a council-owned depot into a studio with two 11,000 sq ft sound stages.

The 52,000 sq ft building in the centre of the town is currently being used by the council as workshops, garages and office space.

The council is now working with Cleveland College of Art & Design on the project to make the space available for commercial use by productions from March.

A nine-month ‘proof of concept’ phase will then follow to allow the college and council to assess what kind of additional work might be needed if there is enough demand for the facility. 

Cleveland College of Art & Design head of employability and external relations Patrick Chapman said that only minor sound-proofing and light-blocking works, which will be funded by the college, will be required ahead of the March opening.

He said of the proof of concept phase: “We want to learn lessons from any productions that use the stages – this would then inform a fuller refurbishment scheme and full planning application.”

Any subsequent building and improvement work would need the financial backing of the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Chapman said the college is already in discussions with unnamed producers about the use of the facility, with two showing “real interest”.

The pilot for BBC comedy Hospital People as well as episodes of Vera (pictured) and Inspector George Gently were recently shot in the town.