WORK starts this month on the latest phase of a multi- million pound investment programme aimed at revitalising the heart of Northumberland’s biggest town.
The area around Blyth’s bus station and library is to get a £650,000 facelift as part of wider regeneration plans for the town centre.
The project involves the rundown Bridge Street site – behind the Keel Row shopping centre – getting new soft landscaping, improved paving and access, better lighting, safer crossing points and new street furniture.
It will improve facilities for bus passengers and operators by making the area more pleasant, accessible and safe.
Council bosses and private companies have been spending significant sums of money on the town centre and quayside areas in recent years, in a bid to make them more attractive to locals and visitors, and boost the local economy.
Work is nearing completion on a new Morrisons superstore, which will replace the company’s former supermarket with a much bigger store on the same site, securing 160 jobs and creating another 150.
It aims to help regenerate the town centre by providing a retail anchor that will attract more customers and visitors, and is seen as a vital shot in the arm for the local economy.
Blyth-based contractor, Landscape Management Services, has won a contract to carry out the extensive landscaping improvements as part of the bus station/library upgrade.
Yesterday Peter McIntyre, managing director of the Arch Group which is delivering the scheme, said: “LMS have an impressive portfolio and we are thrilled that a local company is benefiting from this important investment by public and private sector partners.
“We are setting out to create a more enjoyable environment and experience for public transport users and operators. When we had an exhibition of the plans in September, local people and businesses warmly welcomed the proposals, and told us they are looking forward to a better experience when travelling and shopping in Blyth town centre.”
John Carmichael, managing director of LMS, said: “Our company has grown considerably over the last 10 years, and we’ve been fortunate to work on projects across the North East and UK. We’re really excited at the opportunity to use our skills to bring visible improvements to our local area.”
The project is being funded by the county council, the Department of Transport, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arriva North East, the main operator and owner of the bus station site.
County council leader, Jeff Reid, said: “These long-overdue improvements are part of our plans to attract and retain more spend in the town centre. The improved environment and accessibility should encourage more people to use local shops and services, contributing to the overall sustainability of Blyth, and help the local economy flourish.”
Four years ago £3m was spent on upgrading Blyth Market Place, and the town centre is part of a £1m townscape heritage initiative which involves regenerating its conservation area through the restoration of important buildings in Bridge Street and Union Street.