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North East town centres get a new lease of life

29/11/2012

Darron Barker, Director and Head of LSH in Newcastle, examines the positive impact of the regeneration schemes underway in today’s North East marketplace

Despite the less than favourable current economic climate, the North East marketplace has experienced growth over the last decade, due in part to the impact of regeneration.

Regeneration schemes have made a positive difference in the North East

The changing face of town centres across the region provides an example of the way in which regeneration schemes have made a positive difference to the overall make-up of the North East.  Through various town centre ‘face lifts’ the broken window syndrome is being addressed which should lead to heightened activity in the retail and leisure sectors.

Gateshead town centre, which over many years had fallen into a gradual state of disrepair, will soon be known for more than its Trinity Square ‘Get Carter’ car park notoriety – it will be a modern mixed-use town centre designed to attract visitors and shoppers to Gateshead and turning it into a place that people seek out, rather than avoid.

Gateshead – regeneration capital of the North East

The Gateshead Regeneration Delivery Strategy, a multi million pound offering, includes a new 120,000 sq ft Tesco Extra store and will provide a plethora of opportunities for further retail, hotel, residential and leisure developments which will complement the Spenhill scheme.

Once Gateshead town centre has been fully re-developed, it is anticipated that this will cement the area’s standing as the regeneration capital of the North East, having already made its mark with other surrounding regeneration developments including the re-birth of Gateshead Quays, Gateshead International Stadium and the MetroCentre.

Major plans for Newton Aycliffe and Bishop Auckland underway

Another two schemes to note further south is that of two County Durham towns, Newton Aycliffe and Bishop Auckland.  Plans for Bishop Auckland include examining ways to increase the number of visitors to Auckland Castle and improving the town’s bus and rail networks and hotel accommodation.  Most significantly, there is also a major focus on the possible expansion of the Newgate Centre. It is hoped that the centre will attract national retailers and in turn more money into the area.

Durham County Council has got big plans for Crook which aims to support retail trade, develop better access to the town centre and improve the town centre environment. As part of the plan, community groups are to be invited to bid for a share of more than £500,000 to improve facilities. Other ideas include improving access to services, facilities and shops in the town centre, the creation of new and existing business space for small and medium-sized companies and a possible food retail site in Queen Street.

Finally, Newton Aycliffe has seen a lot of change recently with the first phase of a mixed use development being brought to life, providing a 9,000 sq m town centre expansion including Tesco’s food store with Argos, Lloyds TSB, McGuinness Opticians together with offices for Primary Care Trust, a local charity and a solicitors office.  The second phase will provide a pedestrian link to the existing town centre, along with two new blocks of retail and a combined health centre and library.

Cause to be optimistic about the future of the North East’s offering

With all this investment and regeneration activity attracting retail and leisure investment, which is significantly improving local environments and economies, there is certainly cause to be optimistic about the continued improvement of the North East offering.

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