Bold investment plans for the regeneration of the six town centres within the Stockton borough will go before councillors next week.
This is the next step in Stockton Council’s ambitious programme to invest across all of its town centres, with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to accelerate the challenges that town centres across the country face to make high streets fit for purpose.
Following the result of a public consultation last year, major details of the proposals for the town centres that are to be considered at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, February 18, include:
• The opportunity for the Council to take control of Billingham town centre from current owners St Modwen, subject to detailed due diligence on its condition, to ensure it has the best chance of thriving in the future.
• A further £5m for future interventions in Thornaby.
• Stunning new visuals presenting Stockton’s transformed Castlegate Centre site as Stockton Waterfront; an urban park three times the size of Trafalgar Square with open, flexible spaces in the heart of the town centre, with direct access to the River Tees from the High Street. A further £5m is being proposed to make up for the short fall from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.
• A £3m allocation for the delivery of the proposals for Ingleby Barwick, Norton, Thornaby and Yarm.
This funding would combine with the council’s previous financial allocation, the Tees Valley Combined Authority funding, as well as the £16.5m from the government’s Future High Streets Fund and its Towns Fund application for Thornaby.
For many years, the council has recognised the importance of a diverse and vibrant town centre and has a strong record for transforming them to meet changing demand.
Councillor Nigel Cooke, cabinet member for housing and regeneration, said: “The proposals are a continuation of the changes we’ve been making to repurpose or town centres to become less reliant on retail.
“In the case of Billingham, it’s clear it is in need of investment and the Council are best placed to bring about that transformational change.
“In Ingleby Barwick, we’re looking to continue the success of IB Leisure to create more accessible and open leisure spaces for people of all ages to enjoy.
“In Norton, we’ve presented options to improve car parking layouts and traffic flow in the village as a result of the growing evening economy.
“Stockton’s journey is well underway as we’ve already agreed a number of relocation moves with retailers, but this new imagery shows the realisation of our long-held ambition to open up the town to the river.
“The work of the Town Deal Board in Thornaby has highlighted key priorities with the help of the Government’s Town’s Fund and we’re looking to add to that with Council funding to help realise these interventions.
“Yarm’s reputation as a destination and market town character must be supported and sustained and we’re working closely with Yarm Town Council and other key stakeholders to provide the investment needed to continue this success story.”
If the proposals are agreed, the allocation of funds needed will be considered by full council as part of the medium term financial plan later in February.