THE NEW owner of one of the North East’s biggest venues has vowed to make it one of the region’s top events facilities.

Jay Johal, who owns Jay’s Storage in Chester-le-Street and Stockton, has taken over Rainton Meadows Arena at Houghton-le-Spring and is investing an initial £300,000 in transforming the large-scale venue.

Along with changing the name Rainton Arena going forward, Mr Johal – who took over just a month ago – has already carried out a number of improvements, including creating a garden area, painting the entire building and generally upgrading all of the bar and reception spaces.

The new owner revealed that his initial plan was to see if he could create a new storage facility in a corner of the site, before being told it was up for sale.

“I realised that it just had so much potential because it’s a huge venue, with a standing capacity for 2000 people and more than 1000 for a sit-down dinner along with 900 car park spaces,” he said.

“And so I’m going all out to invest in its refurbishment and make it one of the best venues in the region.”

Jay has also introduced a new catering operation at the venue, which has already gained a huge amount of positive feedback from customers.

“My plan is also to establish it again as a really first-class live music venue, as well as holding a range of events and offering it for conferences, events, awards and celebrations,” he said.

The owner is in discussion with hotels in the area to work on joint packages which he hopes will appeal to large conference and events organisers from other parts of the country.

A full events programme is also being put in place, which includes a children’s Princess and Superheroes afternoon tea on October 29, special Christmas entertainment and appearances by top musical performers.

“We are hoping that anyone who has stopped using the venue in the past for whatever reason will now come and see us and see what we can offer,” said Jay.

For further information visit www.raintonmeadowsarena.co.uk.