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Council welcomes £20million Levelling Up funding for Yarm town centre and Preston Park but shares disappointment as Billingham misses out

27 October 2021

A £20million cash boost for Yarm town centre and Preston Park has been welcomed by the Council's leader, but there is huge disappointment as Billingham misses out on this major transformational funding.

Image of Stockton locations

Today (27 OCT) it was announced in the Chancellor's budget that Yarm would receive the full allocation of £20million the Government's Levelling Up Fund, being one of 100 places to benefit and the only town in the Tees Valley to be successful in round one.

However, major proposals for Billingham that also totalled £20million have been rejected.

In June, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council submitted 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 bids for the constituencies of Stockton North and Stockton South respectively formed 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.

Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: "While we welcome this huge investment opportunity in the Borough through the allocation of £20million for Yarm town centre and Preston Park, it is deeply disappointing that Billingham has received no support for Levelling Up from the Government.

"If Levelling Up is about rebalancing our communities then why has Billingham town centre, which is in the 20 per cent of most deprived areas in the country, missed out on this opportunity?

"The Council has well-developed plans for its six town centres and ambitions to enhance sustainable travel activities and enrich visitor experiences. This provided the ideal opportunity to align this funding with our existing ambitions across both Billingham and Yarm.

"Yarm is an attractive and diverse location for its residents and visitors and this funding will help secure its long-term future by attracting new visitors to the town.

"I will be writing to the Chancellor for a greater understanding of the next steps of the funding process and for feedback on why Billingham has not qualified for the Levelling Up agenda."

For Yarm, proposals to enhance existing pavement and seating areas to support outdoor seating and dining opportunities will be progressed, along with the redevelopment of the town hall into a visitor centre with new toilet facilities and a community learning space.

The development of 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 is also part of the scheme which has been awarded the full allocation of funding.

Improvements to cycle links across the Yarm and Eaglescliffe areas will also enhance connectivity between Preston Hall and Yarm High Street and other key employment sites.

But proposals for Billingham which included addressing the physical condition of its town centre in support of the Council's ambition to take back control and redevelop it were rejected, with Stockton North receiving no allocation of funding in round one.

Billingham was also unsuccessful for the Government's Towns Fund investment, however £23.9million has been provisionally awarded to Thornaby to create transformational change in the area.