Work to transform the outdated Festival Walk shopping precinct in Spennymoor has started this week.
Redevelopment plans were finalised in September, following a £600,000 investment from Durham County Council as part of its ongoing regeneration work across the county.
This week, work has begun to prepare the current precinct for its demolition which gets underway in January.
That will pave the way for a new, free to use town centre car park on the former Kwik Save site, a new larger ALDI store and the refurbishment of the remaining units by developers Hellens Group to provide a more up to date retail space.
It’s hoped the transformation, alongside other regeneration projects taking place in Spennymoor, will help to attract more shoppers and businesses to the county and encourage residents to shop more locally.
Cllr Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We understand that the transformation of Festival Walk has been a priority of both residents and businesses in Spennymoor for some time now. Therefore, this first phase of the physical work getting underway on Monday marks a turning point for the entire town.
“We’re really looking forward to attracting more businesses and shoppers to the town centre through our ongoing programme of investment in Spennymoor and I’m sure that the regeneration of Festival Walk will provide a further boost to the town’s economy.
“The next big phase of the transformation will be the demolition and we then hope to be welcoming shoppers, visitors and businesses to the new look Festival Walk by autumn next year, ensuring that the town centre remains thriving and enriching for residents.”
As part of the council’s ongoing programme of regeneration, the town’s Market Place will also be redeveloped to ensure it provides an appealing and welcoming environment to visitors.
The town’s Kingfisher car park will remain open until the new year, allowing shoppers to continue to park there during the festive period. Other car parking sites will continue to operate as normal throughout the works.
Michael Wilkinson, who owns the Occasions store on Festival Walk, said: “I am so relieved to see that work is starting to transform Festival Walk.
“Everyone in the town has been waiting for this for a long time but we know it will be worth it when it is finished as it will help to totally change the perception of Spennymoor and make it much more welcoming for visitors.
“I’m also really looking forward to seeing other retailers join us. A full shopping centre will hopefully bring a lot more shoppers and visitors to the town so we’re looking forward to seeing the transformation complete, alongside other regeneration projects in the town, to see the positive impact it will have on everyone.
“In the meantime, we will be continuing to trade throughout the works and would like to thank our shoppers in advance for their patience and support with that.”
For more information about the redevelopment and to view the work as it happens via live webcam, visit the Festival Walk page on the council’s website.