The project ties in with wider regeneration efforts. Credit: The Auckland Project

Start for £12m Kingsway Square regen

Work has begun to transform a section of derelict land in the centre of Bishop Auckland as the town centre improvement programme takes shape.

Kingsway Square will provide car parking, electric vehicle charging, cycle storage and attractive retail-fronted access directly into Newgate Street, the town’s main shopping street.

Demolition has been completed at Kingsway Square and civils works are now under way on site.

Designed to benefit the town and its people by encouraging footfall into the town centre, Kingsway Square will feature ‘urban garden’-style landscaped recreation and pedestrianised areas, with ambient lighting and outdoor seating, as well as spaces for children to play, creating an attractive and safe gateway to Bishop Auckland’s existing retailers, businesses and attractions.

Kingsway Square, and its surrounding mixed-use private developments, is a joint initiative between regeneration charity, The Auckland Project; Durham County Council and private sector developers.

The project has been enabled by the UK 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.

Bishop Auckland has been awarded £53m through the two programmes, £33m of this being through the Stronger Towns Fund. Further support has been secured through the Levelling Up Fund.

Surrounded by buildings of historical importance, such as the Masonic Hall, Kingsway Square will revitalise approximately 30,000 sq ft of disused land and buildings, while preserving the surrounding architecture, to create a safe and modern retail and residential development in keeping with the town, where people can visit, live, work, dine and shop.

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.

Edward Perry, chief executive of The Auckland Project says: “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 space right in the heart of the town, bringing more people, business and accommodation opportunities to Newgate Street. It is a privilege to play our part in bringing new life back to our high street.”

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “Our ambitious plans to regenerate Bishop Auckland are now in full swing as visible work is taking place on the ground at Kingsway Square and across the town.

“These exciting plans form an integral part of our investment plans for reinvigorating the north end of the town and complements the millions being invested to improve transport connections, create brand new commercial and leisure facilities and develop significant cultural attractions.

“We will continue to work with our partners to transform Bishop Auckland into a thriving place that the local community and visitors can enjoy for years to come.”

The work at Kingsway Square complements other developments on nearby Newgate Street in the town, which aim to help revitalise the high street.

On the east side of Newgate Street, an abandoned shoe shop and pub have recently been converted into the Jord restaurant, which will be run by Masterchef contestant Mike Bartley.

Five holiday apartments are currently being developed on the first and second floors. The former Burtons store, positioned in the town centre on the intersection of Newgate Street and Victoria Avenue, has also been converted into a bar, which will be run by local brewery Caps Off.

Work to create 10 holiday apartments in the building is underway. The two developments have created 50 jobs in the town.

Meanwhile, the Masonic Hall on Victoria Avenue is undergoing conversion to become 10 apartments with an art space and office on the ground floor.  The development is set to complete in January 2025.

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