Billingham and Yarm "could be transformed by £40million Levelling Up fund bid"
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is submitting a £40million bid to the Government's Levelling Up fund as part of its ambitious plans for Billingham town centre, Yarm town centre and the further development of Preston Park.
The two £20million bids for the constituencies of Stockton North and Stockton South are for major proposals forming part of the ongoing town centres investment programme led by the Council, together with an exciting opportunity for new facilities in Preston Park including a new exhibition space, café and toilets and car parking.
The central themes of the Levelling Up Fund criteria are culture, transport and town centre regeneration. Bids for round one of the funding are to be submitted on Friday (18th June) and have been developed in full consultation with both MPs.
The Council already has well-developed plans for its six town centres and longstanding ambitions to enhance sustainable travel activities and enrich visitor experiences, which provides the ideal opportunity to align this funding opportunity with its existing ambitions.
Proposals include addressing the physical condition of Billingham town centre in support the Council's ambition to take back control of the centre. Redevelopment would solve the challenges of changing retail trends that are contributing towards excess retail space and high vacancy rates.
This includes exploring options for mixed-use redevelopment and high-quality public spaces that improve accessibility within the town centre and a modern retail offering.
For Yarm, enhancements to existing pavement and seating areas to support outdoor seating and dining opportunities is being proposed, along with the redevelopment of the town hall into a visitor centre with new toilet facilities and a community learning space.
Proposals to develop Preston Park, the Tees Valley's leading tourist attraction, by extending the museum into an exhibition centre and gallery space, with additional access and infrastructure improvements are also being submitted.
Connectivity between Preston Hall and Yarm High Street and other key employment sites would also be enhanced by improved cycle links across the Yarm Eaglescliffe areas.
Councillor Nigel Cooke, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: "We already have exciting plans for our town centres and there is clear alignment with these existing ambitions and the opportunity for Levelling Up funding.
"We're seizing this opportunity and a great deal of work has gone into this to ensure that we meet the criteria and stand a great chance of being successful in securing investment into our communities that could be transformed by a £40million bid.
"It still remains our ambition to purchase, take back control of Billingham town centre and repurpose the town centre through a number of physical interventions.
"Yarm is an attractive and diverse location for residents and visitors, funding would help secure its long-term future by attracting new visitors to the town.
"Development at Preston Park would also contribute to the image and identity of the Borough, setting it apart from other areas and of course, making it easier for residents to access cultural opportunities on their doorsteps."
A decision on the outcome of the bids for round one is expected in Autumn 2021.