5plus is the council's design partner. Credit: Stockton Council

Cabinet rubber-stamps next steps for Billingham

Stockton-on-Tees Council will advance the partial acquisition of the town centre to enable a Levelling Up Fund-backed redevelopment, led by 160 homes and close to 25,000 sq ft of commercial space.

The decision was signed off by Stockton’s cabinet at a meeting this week. Working with 5plus Architects, the local authority has mapped out a set of interventions to improve Billingham town centre, and plans to buy the necessary assets to make that happen.

Stockton’s cabinet has now signed off on the vision document for Billingham, approved the acquisition and what will be a number of property interventions.

These include the relocation of businesses in West Precinct and Queensway South ahead of demolition. Also in line for the wrecking ball are former library buildings, with mixed-use development, infrastructure and public realm improvements to come in their stead.

The former Wynyard House building will be comprehensively refurbished as part of the development project.

Evolve Estates is the owner of the assets to be traded, and will guide the relocation process. The cost of the relocation and demolition programme is estimated at £13m.

It has also been agreed that the cabinet will support, in principle, any use of CPO powers deemed necessary.

Stockton had been aiming for Levelling Up Fund backing since 2021 and had put together the masterplan with that in mind, but it was only at the third time of asking, in November last year, that the council snagged £20m grant funding as part of LUF round three.

A revised masterplan is now in place, offering up a vision of a residential-led town centre. According to the report that went before cabinet, “this approach will stimulate change through the provision of modern, fit for purpose accommodation that encourages and diversifies uses, attracts private sector investment and increases footfall.

“This includes the creation of new retail floorspace to enable relocation of existing businesses within the centre as well as investment in the disused Council office, Wynyard House, to maintain a physical Council presence in the town centre.”

Evolve bought the 320,000 sq ft town centre retail pitch from St Modwen at the end of 2023, the Midlands developer having held it for around a decade.

The council is bidding for a public sector hub through the One Public Estate programme. The June cabinet meeting also signed off advancing the Billingham Sports Hub project to RIBA Stage 4.

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