Billingham residents have given a big thumbs up to proposals for improving their town centre. "Yes please" and "bring on the regeneration" are the main messages to take from the official Consultation Report, published today by Stockland and Stockton Council.
The consultation on a proposed 'Masterplan' for Billingham Town Centre took place in November, with more than 1,600 people coming to view the plans. Nearly 400 people filled out feedback forms available at the public exhibition and online on the Council's website, with a clear majority stating their overwhelming support for the principle of the regeneration.
A massive 99.7 per cent of consultation respondents commented that they feel Billingham Town Centre is 'in need of regeneration'. The Consultation Report, available on the website at www.stockton.gov.uk/billingham, shows that:
84.1 per cent of respondents found the exhibition either 'very' or 'somewhat informative'.
82.4 per cent said that the regeneration would make them want to shop in the Town Centre more often.
Only 40.6 per cent currently use the Town Centre for shopping more than once a week.
Respondents welcomed the plans for new paving, seating, lighting and planting, with one commenting: "The proposals to improve street lighting and the street paving are, in my opinion, essential". Respondents also called for the regeneration to take place as soon as possible. One wrote: "Billingham Town Centre requires urgent regeneration and has been in need of it for several years. Apart from the obvious shopping it will bring, it will also restore pride to the residents of Billingham again".
The consultation programme sought the views of local people, businesses and local elected representatives on Stockland's draft Masterplan for investing in and regenerating Billingham Town Centre. The Masterplan outlines details for a new West Precinct food store, refurbishments to shops, new lighting, paving, planting and new facilities for the town's shopping area.
Commenting on the results, Simon Hoad, Development Director for Stockland, said: "I want to thank everyone that gave their feedback on the proposals during the consultation. This is an overwhelming response and a very clear message that people want to see change for the better. We'll now be looking closely at delivering improvements which will provide Billingham with excellent shops, facilities and public spaces that people can be proud of."
Councillor Bob Cook, Stockton Council's Cabinet Member for Transport and Regeneration, said: "This much-needed regeneration will breathe life back into the Town Centre. It was fantastic that so many people provided their views on the detailed aspects of the plans - it is important that the Masterplan both delivers what people need, while also giving them the opportunity to make their mark on the new Town Centre".
The feedback received will be used to refine the proposals ahead of the Masterplan being formally agreed with Stockton Council. Stockland will then submit planning applications for various aspects of the Masterplan in the coming months.