First spade in the ground at Stockton Waterfront
North of England contractor Esh Construction has started work on the site where the former Castlegate shopping centre and Swallow Hotel stood.
Design firm Ryder and planner Lichfields led a professional team that secured consent for the urban park and performance space project in the summer.
The project is being funded by a combination of the council’s own capital, a £20m investment from the Tees Valley Combined Authority and £16.5m from the government’s Future High Streets Fund, which Stockton bid for after buying the Castlegate centre in 2019.
Esh is now on site to deliver the scheme for Stockton-on-Tees Council. The firm’s chief executive, Andy Radcliffe, said: “This development is set to play an influential and iconic role in the future of Stockton town centre, and it is a proud moment for us, as a local contractor, to be delivering the scheme.
“Through our approach to ‘Constructing Local’ we will maximise the social and economic benefits within the Tees Valley by providing local employment and procurement opportunities, delivering award-winning school engagement initiatives, and supporting the next generation to pursue a career in construction with meaningful work placements.
“There is huge transformation happening across Tees Valley and we’re delighted to be part of it.”
The development will include a series of play areas and a host of flexible spaces across the urban park, which will open up the high street and connect it to the River Tees through a land bridge structure, spanning Riverside Road, providing uninterrupted access to the riverside from the high street.
Work in the first phase will include the realignment and narrowing of Riverside Road, the construction of a 55m land bridge structure and extension of the existing Millenium Footbridge.
Phase two will include paving elements for the oval lawn taking the park over the top of the highway, new gardens and the installation of new play areas.
In the final phase, the construction of a large-scale amphitheatre will link the high street to the riverside and provide an event space.
Cllr Nigel Cooke, cabinet member for regeneration and housing at Stockton-on-Tees, said: “This is such an exciting time for Stockton and I’m very pleased we can finally say that work on the build of this fantastic urban park is underway.
“Where we are standing is set to be an iconic, nationally recognisable new public space for the Borough’s residents, and visitors and will set the scene for our world-class events programme in the future. There’ll be something for everyone as they head through the different areas of the park.
“It’s a brilliant day to be a part of because we’ve been on a real journey across our six town centres and projects like this will be a catalyst for change, investment and external growth.”