A building society has been praised for its commitment to a Teesside town centre after announcing a major investment in relocating to a more central and modern site.
Darlington Building Society is preparing to move its award-winning Redcar branch from its current High Street position to a more prominent location, as part of the newer £26m Regent Walk Shopping Centre.
Redcar was recently voted the society’s branch of the year with a high level of community focus being a key success factor, and discussions are underway on how its new home can be a shared space with the local community.
Chief customer officer Darren Ditchburn said: “This move represents a significant investment and a vote of confidence in the future of Redcar town centre.”
The move – scheduled to take place in May – has been warmly welcomed by Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council leader Mary Lanigan, the town’s MP Jacob Young and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen.
Councillor Lanigan said: “This is excellent news and represents investment and commitment from a responsible, community-focused building society to Redcar town centre and to the people of the area.
“We look forward to working with Darlington Building Society and thank them for continuing to engage with our town centre. We also look forward to working with other investors in the months and years ahead as exciting plans to transform Redcar town centre progress.”
Mr Young added: “Darlington Building Society’s decision to move to a larger branch in central Redcar is a real vote of confidence in the town.
“There has been a dramatic shift in perspective for the entire region following last week’s landmark budget announcements for Teesside, and Darlington Building Society is already demonstrating that with this positive investment in Redcar.
“Not only will the new central location be better for customers, it supports my campaign to rebuild Redcar High Street and will add to the vibrancy of the town centre as we recover from the pandemic.”
And Mr Houchen said: “It’s great to hear of another local success story going from strength to strength, especially in these difficult times, and that it’s playing a part in town-centre regeneration.
“Darlington Building Society’s latest investment is bucking the trend by moving even further into a town centre. It’s more important than ever to make our towns as welcoming and well-equipped as possible as we reopen our economy and get people back supporting our brilliant local businesses.
“The redevelopment of the Teesworks site is not just essential for bringing the former Redcar steelworks back to life, but also for boosting and supporting Redcar town centre. The jobs we are creating at Teesworks for local workers means more local people have more money to spend in their town centre – backing our amazing local businesses.”
The society’s announcement coincides with the Redcar Town Board submitting a £25m regeneration plan for the town centre, six years after the closure of Redcar steelworks, with the loss of 2,000 jobs.
“Redcar is an important location for Darlington Building Society and we want to be part of these exciting plans to breathe new life into the town centre,” said Mr Ditchburn, who is a Redcar resident.
The relocation is part of the society’s strategy to go on investing in its branch network across the North-East.
Mr Ditchburn added: “We have seen a resurgence of community spirit during the pandemic, with a greater willingness to buy and shop local, and this investment is aimed at building on that trend.
“It is very clear to us that our branches still have a key role to play because people want to invest their money where they know they can go for personal service from people they have grown to trust.
“Whilst the usage of digital based services continues to grow, we are passionate about financial inclusion and, therefore, it’s important we consider an inclusive approach to supporting people within our local communities.
“Financial services can be complex and, through our branch network, we are able to provide a more personalised service on savings and mortgages, as well as advice on other financial matters such as retirement planning.”