The finishing touches are being made to the newly rejuvenated Stockton Town Centre.
Over the coming months the final stages of the town’s physical transformation will be carried out ahead of its official launch this spring.
Soft landscaping is being laid around the water feature to complement the focal point at the heart of the town where people can sit, relax and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the High Street.
Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, Councillor Mike Smith, said: “Thanks to the town’s physical regeneration, Stockton is quickly becoming a welcoming, enticing and bustling place to be.
“By creating more parking on the High Street it is now much easier for people to pop into the town to visit its many shops, independent businesses and cultural and leisure opportunities.
“The town looks much more attractive than it did two and a half years ago when the works began which has made a vast difference and we are already reaping the benefits with businesses choosing to establish themselves in the town and more shoppers and visitors taking the opportunity to take advantage of the events, specialist markets, shops, businesses and eateries.
“Stockton is going from strength to strength. It is the place to be in 2015 and I am really looking forward to seeing it continue to flourish for many more years to come.”
The town is seeing much more than just a physical transformation, in the last twelve months more than 40 businesses have opened, expanded or relocated in Stockton Town Centre. Vacancy rates are the lowest they have been in three years and shoppers visiting the town can take advantage of free parking after 3pm in Stockton Town Centre's short-stay car parks until 31 January.
A new, larger Enterprise Arcade opened at 35-37 Stockton High Street in November. The beautiful heritage building is home to a variety of fledgling retailers, each offering a wide range of quality products. More than 7000 people enjoyed the Stockton Sparkles specialist market last month, blogger, Ashleigh expressed her delight in her online blog (www.theashleighproject.co.uk), “Every year Stockton holds its Christmas Market event ‘Stockton Sparkles’, and whilst I’ve never been to one before I am going to make it my mission to go every year from now on. It was brilliant!” The 2015 specialist markets programme will be the busiest yet and will include some newly themed markets offering better, more high quality goods than ever before.
Meanwhile, the owners of the Castlegate Centre, Ellandi are working with study hotel company, Urban Student Life to bring the vacant Swallow Hotel back into use as luxuriously refurbished student accommodation. It will bring a new, vibrant community onto the High Street which will benefit the many businesses based in the town centre. If planning permission is granted the building will be restored and transformed into more than 130 rooms as well as common areas like an cinema, in-house laundry, safe storage and multi-faith prayer rooms.
Outside Marks and Spencer a handsome new granite plinth has been constructed. The plinth has a poem inscribed on it which was written by internationally published local poet, Mark Robinson. The poem hints at the town’s industrial past and at the form of the Stockton Flyer automaton, which in future the plinth will house. As well as becoming home to the Flyer, the plinth also serves as a stage for small performances and will occasionally be used for temporary sculptures in a similar way to the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square.
To keep up-to-date with the developments visit www.rediscoverstockton.co.uk