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Further ambitious investment in Stockton-on-Tees' town centres unveiled by Council

10 February 2021

Bold investment plans for the regeneration of the six town centres in Stockton-on-Tees will go before councillors next week.

Stockton on tees 4 town centres

This is the next step in Stockton-on-Tees Borough 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 18 February include:

  • The opportunity for the Council to take control of Billingham town centre from current owners St Modwen Ltd, subject to detailed due diligence on its condition, to ensure it has the best chance of thriving in the future.
  • A further £5million 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 £5million is being proposed to make up for the short fall from the Government's Future High Streets Fund.
  • A £3million 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 £16.5million 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.

What's happening in Billingham?

Although Billingham was not selected for the Government's Towns Fund, the Council has remained committed to investing in the town centre and securing its long-term future, alongside pursuing other funding opportunities.

Councillors are asked to approve the intent to pursue the acquisition of the freehold of Billingham Town Centre, including the West Precinct building and the adjacent car park.

Following this, detailed due diligence undertaken with St Modwen will commence to negotiate a purchase price through to completion.

What's happening in Ingleby Barwick?

Building on the successful opening of the £14million IB Leisure Centre, councillors are being asked to approve preliminary plans to improve Romano Park and its existing activity area.

Works to the nature reserve and the option to provide a catering area within the park will also be considered. The masterplan also explores opportunities for investment on additional activity area on the land to the south of All Saints Academy.

The Council plan to work with academies and primary schools in Ingleby Barwick to seek input on the design of the activity areas within Romano Park, with works set to commence in summer 2021.

What's happening in Norton?

Cabinet are being asked to approve the creation of a one-way system at the very southern section of the High Street, the creation of wider pedestrian areas and approximately 20 additional car or taxi spaces along this southern section.

A programme of repairs to the duck pond, the permitter path and steps, as well as a replacement of the fountain and surface improvements will also be considered including options to improve the public realm for residents, businesses and visitors at the southern section of the High Street to create a multi-use carpark and events space.

If approved, a dedicated consultation process with businesses and stakeholders will be carried out before the works commence in summer 2021.

What's happening in Stockton?

New CGIs show the scale of the major waterfront development with the demolition of the Castlegate Centre and the Swallow Hotel to take out surplus retail space and open up the High Street to the river.

An active engagement plan will commence this spring with stakeholders in the town centre who will be potentially impacted by the Castlegate Centre demolition.

Stockton Waterfront will be an open, flexible space for community large-scale events for people of all ages to enjoy.

The development of the southern end of the High Street, including the new Council facilities also includes opportunities to attract inward investment from the public and private sector. With the Government's 'Levelling Up' agenda set to see departments relocate outside of London, Stockton Waterfront is ideally placed to play a role in any development.

As a result of a more detailed assessment following the provisional allocation from the Government's Future High Streets Fund of just over £16.5million, Cabinet are being asked to approve a further £5million to support the delivery of the Stockton Waterfront development.

What's happening in Thornaby?

The Council has submitted a Town Investment Plan to bid for up to £25million of funding from the Government's Towns Fund, addressing a broad range of opportunities for intervention. This recognises the hard work of the Town Deal Board, which is made up of elected members, key public and private sector bodies. The Town Deal Board has identified key priorities from this plan:

  1. Tackle long term vacant properties in the town centre to enable new development and change of use.
  2. Support to enhance the delivery of skills training for Thornaby residents, liked to further education provision.
  3. New footpath and cycle infrastructure linking station, college, town centre and key residential and employment sites.
  4. Addressing poor quality housing in North Thornaby.

Cabinet will be recommended to approve £5million of co-funding for any future interventions that will need to have further approval when specific plans are drawn up. 

What's happening in Yarm?

Proposals for the restoration of Yarm Town Hall are to be considered, with a planned Heritage Centre and education resource. This is subject to additional funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, in addition to investment from the Council and Yarm Town Council.

The Council has made significant progress on addressing long stay parking provision through agreement to lease land to the rear of the High Street. A planning application has been submitted with a view to it becoming operational in summer 2021.

Further work is being carried out to identify a location for an Enterprise Arcade in Yarm, similar to the Fountain Shopping Mall in Stockton, to support emerging business talent and also provide new toilet facilities in the town.