Montage of artist impressions of Stockton town centre plans

Stockton’s public consultation calls for new leisure landscape

The Castlegate Shopping Centre and Swallow Hotel are set to be demolished as part of bold plans to tackle Stockton’s empty shops and open up the town to the river.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council bought the buildings in September before seeking public views on a “once in a generation” opportunity to change the town.

Plans are now being drawn-up after the consultation, which attracted around 1,000 responses, revealed strong public support for putting the site to a different use.

“We had a massive response to our consultation on the next steps for Stockton town centre and I’d like to thank everybody who shared their views,” said Councillor Nigel Cooke, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing.

“It’s obvious people care very deeply about the town.”

What is being proposed?

Under the plans, Castlegate and the Swallow Hotel – which occupy a site around three times the size of Trafalgar Square – will make way for a riverside park and offices.

The riverside park will feature public artwork and pleasant green spaces for families to enjoy.

A “land bridge” structure will enable the park to span a section of Riverside Road, providing uninterrupted access to the waterfront.

The Council is also proposing to build a new central library, customer service centre and council office on the site, kick-starting its regeneration and saving money as part of plans to consolidate its 10 existing council offices into two.

The town’s main retail offer will be focussed on Wellington Square, the 700-year-old market, and other parts of the High Street and town centre, such as Silver Street.

The feasibility of covering Wellington Square – which the Council bought in May last year – to protect shoppers from the elements will also be progressed.

What’s the thinking behind this?

“What the consultation has shown is strong public support for demolishing Castlegate and the Swallow Hotel, concentrating shops at Wellington Square and making the most of the town’s riverside setting,” said Councillor Cooke.

“I think people are starting to realise that high streets have changed forever and the days of them being lined with big name shops are over. We’ve seen it in Stockton with the likes of M&S, Debenhams and H&M all going.

“But it’s all about how we respond…

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