An ambitious vision for Middlesbrough as the city heart of the Tees Valley is delivering real results – and council chiefs say the best is yet to come.
A bold and far-reaching Investment Strategy is attracting enterprise and creating jobs, while the focus on the High Street is on delivering the right mix of independents and nationals, great value and premium brands.
Middlesbrough’s place as a regional shopping destination is secure thanks to its enviable range of big names which have shown confidence in the city centre despite ongoing difficult conditions nationally.
In addition to major high street retailers like New Look and TopShop, visitors can enjoy a wide variety of luxury brands covering everything from beauty to jewellery and clothing.
Designer clothing outlets Triads and Pysche now rub shoulders with luxury chain Flannels, home to big name brands like Jimmy Choo, Balenciaga, Balmain and Vivienne Westwood.
Debenhams is the place to go for MAC, Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent and Dior beauty brands, and jewellery lovers need look no further than Market Cross and Goldsmiths for high-end names ranging from Rolex and Breitling to Links of London and Tag Heuer.
Attracting shoppers to a vibrant city centre offer has knock-on benefits for the wider economy, with cafes, bars, restaurants and countless other businesses benefiting from healthy footfall and the disposable income it brings.
That in turn has attracted new eateries, with Bistrot Pierre and Turtle Bay just two of the businesses helping to transform Middlesbrough’s lunch and night-time economies.
None of this happens overnight, or without a lot of hard work, expertise and enthusiasm – and that’s where Middlesbrough Council’s City Centre Team have a track record that’s second to none.
City centre manager Michelle McPhee has a clear vision: “Our focus is firmly on building a strong and prosperous Middlesbrough for the benefit of all its residents, and we’re confident that our city centre strategy, which looks at both growth and quality of experience, will build a strong and thriving centre for the future.
“We’re really proud of our offer here in Middlesbrough, and the fact that we can cater to all tastes and budgets.
“It’s all about creating a city centre offer that will encourage visitors to spend as much time as possible here, and that in turn will benefit the town as a whole.”
The impact of such a bold and ambitious approach is borne out by the latest figures which show resounding economic growth.
Visitor numbers, visitor spending and employment in the tourism sector are all up, with new hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities feeling the benefits.
Important regeneration projects currently underway include the Albert North project along the stretch of Albert Road between Middlesbrough Town Hall and the railway station, bringing new life to a key city centre thoroughfare in the shape of offices, city living accommodation and food and drink outlets.
Another major regeneration project is St James Studios further along Albert Road facing Centre Square on the corner opposite the Holiday Inn Express.
The building has recently been converted by Atha Developments, another local company, turning empty office space into high quality apartments.
Middlesbrough Railway Station is due to undergo a £20m transformation and the Grade II-listed Zetland Hotel has just reopened as a continental-style brasserie.
Work continues apace on the striking new Grade A office accommodation at Centre Square, while across Middlesbrough new family homes are being built at the fastest rate for over a generation.
For mayor Dave Budd Middlesbrough’s ongoing resurgence is something in which the whole of the borough can take considerable pride, while looking to the future with confidence.
He said: “It’s plain to see that our city centre strategy is working – investment, not to mention shoppers and visitors, are flooding into Middlesbrough and there is barely a corner of the city centre that is not seeing positive development.
“Everywhere you look there are new restaurants, bars, hotels, leisure outlets and offices, with new buildings in development and old buildings undergoing restoration.
“The confidence and ambition we showed in our Investment Strategy has translated into investors putting their belief in what can be achieved in Middlesbrough’s present and future.
“We’ve made huge strides in the last two years, and the evidence of what has been achieved is writ large, from the city centre to the suburbs.
“But the best is yet to come, as projects currently in the pipeline come to fruition, and new ideas begin to take shape.
“Middlesbrough is embarking on one of the most exciting phases in its history, and one that will stand it in good stead for generations to come.”
For more information on current developments and future vision, visit www.investmiddlesbrough.co.uk