Another three buildings in Stockton Town Centre are being brought back into use, thanks to Stockton's 'Grants for Heritage Buildings'.
134 High Street, 17 Dovecot Street and 35-37 High Street have all received funding from Stockton Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund to create retail and residential space at the heart of Stockton Town Centre.
All three properties were vacant before they were awarded the grant funding. Now two of them have already confirmed future uses.
35-37 High Street will become the new home of the town's Enterprise Arcade and 17 Dovecot Street is to become a florist. Meanwhile, options for 134 High Street are being considered by its owner.
Stockton Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, Councillor Mike Smith, said: "It is really encouraging to see yet more heritage buildings being brought back into use, not only creating additional retail and residential space but also enhancing the appearance of the town. The three projects complement the wider improvements being delivered to the town's layout and landscaping through the multi-million pound regeneration scheme and it is well worth a visit.
"There are many beautiful buildings in Stockton. If you look above the shop fronts you will see some striking architecture and it's really important that we make use of as well as preserve them.
"Stockton Town Centre may be quickly transforming but we want to make sure these historic buildings are part of its future. I am really pleased that properties like this are able to access funding, thanks to contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Stockton Council, to make sure they are suitable for use in the 21st Century while also improving the look of the High Street."
The ground floor of the 19th century former Town House at 134 High Street has been restored. Full external repairs to prevent further deterioration to the building such as re-roofing, joinery, window repairs and external decoration have also been completed.
Since 1921, 134 High Street has been a chemists and hardware store, from its early days as 'Taylor Drug Company' through to 'Timothy Whites & Taylors', 'Boots' and 'Timothy Whites'. Most recently the property was an Amusements Arcade from 1986 until 2005.
Works are also under way to create larger premises for the town's Enterprise Arcade at 35-37 High Street. When the building, which is around 140 years old, opens its doors again at the end of the month, it will become home to up to 16 fledgling businesses, offering shoppers a diverse range of independent shops where they will find items that can't be bought at other town centres or retail parks.
Since the late 1800s, the existing premises has spent most of its life as a drapers and department store, with a brief spell as a house furnishers, then a health and beauty store, and even for a short time, as a Job Centre. Latterly the property's ground floor was operated by a charity bookshop.
Works have also recently started at 17 Dovecot Street where the first floor space is being brought back into use as a residential flat. The grant is part-funding a new shop front, building repairs and alterations as well to improve the layout of the ground floor for modern retailers. A new floristry business is set to open there after Christmas, adding to the number of traders who have operated from the old 'T.H Bradley' Butcher's shop.
Since the Council's Grants for Heritage Buildings scheme started in 2008 eleven properties have been awarded funding, helping to create six new residential apartments on the High Street and improve and bring back into use eleven commercial units.
Councillor Smith added: "I'm really pleased that some of this funding is being used to develop homes within easy reach of the many shops, businesses, eateries, leisure activities and events - helping to create a sustainable and vibrant town centre."
Four of the six new residential units are now occupied. Three further projects are now close to securing grant funding, which will create one further residential apartment and see three more Town Centre retail units improved, one of which will be brought back into use having stood empty for many years.