203Major regeneration of Shildon town centre is set to get underway which will lead to the creation of a revitalised public space for events.

The work, carried out by Durham County Council, will start later this month and be completed in time to allow it to be used for the first time on Saturday, 16 July. This event will celebrate the visit of the Flying Scotsman before it arrives for a week-long stay at Locomotion – The National Railway Museum at Shildon the following Saturday.

The improvements will see the town square refurbished and canopies over the old water feature and statue removed to open up the space. Seating and bins will be replaced across the town centre with improved lighting also installed. The three arches in the town will be removed as well as some of the barriers and guardrails to improve pedestrian access with those remaining being refurbished to fit in with the new look centre.

The improvements come after consultations with residents, schools and businesses highlighted the need to make the square more usable as a public space for events and activities as well as the removal of barriers to improve the flow of pedestrians. Flower troughs that were previously across the centre have already been moved to Hackworth Park, maintained by the town council. The town council will also take responsibility for the new furniture in the town square when the works are complete.

Cllr Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration and culture, said: “We’re delighted to be starting work on improvements that people living and working in Shildon told us were their priorities for our ongoing regeneration of the town. The visit of the Flying Scotsman promises to be a major event for Shildon and we look forward to welcoming it with an improved public space.”