203Cabinet will be asked to approve a scheme to continue the regeneration of Spennymoor Town Centre through an intervention in Festival Walk when they meet next week (May 11).

The plans will see Durham County Council purchase and demolish a section of the retail area, before creating a new town centre car park. This will come forward as part of an agreement that will see a developer take over the rest of the site in order to demolish a large part of the existing shopping centre to create one new large retail unit and then refurbish and modernise the remaining units. Access to the site itself will also be enhanced in addition to improvements to the nearby Oxford Road junction.

This multi million pound scheme will see Durham County Council invest £600,000 as part of the council’s ongoing commitment to improving town centres across County Durham.

The future of Festival Walk has been uncertain since the economic downturn saw the previous owners, Castlemore go into administration in 2009. This uncertainty has seen empty units increase on the site and 62 per cent of the floorspace currently vacant.

The wider scheme aims to not only provide a sustainable future for Spennymoor town centre but also deliver a range of wider benefits to the town in addition to the new and accessible retail space and provision of a further town centre car park.

As well as the refurbished units providing better space for existing tenants it is hoped they will also make it easier to attract new businesses to the area. By providing a quality car park in the heart of the town, the scheme aims to ensure that businesses across Spennymoor will reap the benefits as well as those on Festival Walk.

Subject to approval by Cabinet it is hoped that the deal could be concluded to allow demolition of the existing site to start early in 2017.

Cllr Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration and culture, said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce a plan which will see Festival Walk revitalised, providing another big step forward in the regeneration of Spennymoor.

“By taking direct action, not only do we unlock a development that will be of huge benefit to Festival Walk but in a way that increases the parking to support the businesses and residents of the whole town, as well as making it more attractive to visitors.

“As part of our masterplan we have already seen many millions of pounds invested in both the town and the surrounding area, creating a better and brighter future for Spennymoor.

But I am personally extremely pleased that the redevelopment of Festival Walk will see us deliver a key part of the masterplan, and a key promise to the people of Spennymoor.”

As part of the report, Cabinet will also hear an update on the progress made so far as part of the council’s masterplan for the regeneration of the area. As well as significant efforts to bring forward new business space across the Green Lane Industrial Estate, the nearby DurhamGate scheme has seen in excess of £45 million worth of investment already towards a projected total of £100 million. Once complete the scheme is expected to generate nearly 3,000 jobs. To support this, across Spennymoor over 600 homes have been built with another 2,300 underway or due to start.

Among other improvements, such as investment in leisure centre facilities, the council has also spent £14 million on improving schools with almost £11 million for the extended and remodelled Whitworth Park School. Since the start of the masterplan, the council has also invested £300,000 in supporting the retail offer across Spennymoor, including targeted support for 25 businesses based within the town centre.

Cabinet will take place at County Hall in Durham at 10am on 11 May.