Kingsway Square on the starting blocks
Work is to begin on Bishop Auckland’s £12m town centre improvement project, which along with green space will bring EV charging, cycle storage and retail-fronted access to main shopping area Newgate Street.
Planning consent has now been granted for the transformation of the derelict plot in a scheme designed to drive footfall into the town centre. Around 32,000 sq ft of disused land and buildings will be revitalised by the project.
Kingsway Square will feature ‘urban garden’-style landscaped recreation and pedestrianised areas, with ambient lighting and outdoor seating, as well as a children’s play area, creating a much improved gateway to Bishop Auckland’s existing retailers, businesses and attractions.
The project’s outline is surrounded by buildings of historical importance, such as the Mechanics Institute and the Masonic Hall, which the scheme’s promoters are looking to preserve and promote as the improvement project moves ahead.
Vehicular access to Kingsway Square will be via Kingsway and the creation of approximately 70 short-stay parking spaces, for local residents and visitors, will support the planned improvements to Bishop Auckland’s transport infrastructure.
Kingsway Square, and its surrounding mixed-use private developments, is a £12m joint initiative between regeneration charity The Auckland Project, Durham County Council and private sector developers.
The scheme is backed by cash from the government’s Future High Streets Fund and Stronger Towns Fund, which aims to renew and reshape town centres and high streets to drive growth, improve experience and ensure future sustainability.
David Maddan, chief development officer at The Auckland Project, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Durham County Council and the private sector to revitalise this derelict piece of land in the heart of Bishop Auckland. Kingsway Square will be an attractive mixed-use community right in the heart of the town, which will drive more footfall to our local businesses and attractions.”
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “This project is an exciting step forward in our ambitious plans to regenerate Bishop Auckland and we’re delighted to be a part of it.
“Once complete, Kingsway Square will provide a welcoming space supporting current businesses in the town by increasing footfall to Newgate Street and attracting new ones with its modern retail offer.
“It forms an integral part of our investment plans for reinvigorating the north end of the town and compliments the £192m being invested to improve transport connections, create brand new commercial and leisure facilities and develop significant cultural attractions.”
The Auckland Project is the brainchild of philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer, who according to estimates has so far bankrolled around £200m of mostly arts-led regeneration projects in the area, a recent example being the opening of a faith museum in October.