The multi-million-pound redevelopment of an outdated shopping precinct is gathering pace with the demolition of derelict buildings on site.
This week, work to raze the former Kwik Save supermarket in Festival Walk in Spennymoor to the ground began, as part of a major scheme to transform the area into an attractive and modern shopping area.
The demolition will make way for a new, free to use town centre car park, and will shortly be followed by the clearing of a large area to allow for the creation of a new and bigger Aldi store. This will replace the supermarket’s existing branch in the town, which will be re-let.
Aimed at attracting more shoppers and businesses into the town centre, the redevelopment of Festival Walk has benefited from a £600,000 investment from Durham County Council’s Towns and Villages programme. This initial investment levered in millions of pounds more and played a key role in driving the project forward.
Towns and Villages is an important part of the council’s regeneration strategy and aims to ensure the money the local authority spends and the services it provides deliver the best possible outcomes for communities across County Durham.
Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The demolition of the former Kwik Save supermarket is a major milestone in the transformation of Spennymoor town centre and means we can finally say goodbye to Festival Walk. It also demonstrates our commitment to ensuring Spennymoor and other towns and villages across the county are vibrant and prosperous for generations to come.
“The people of Spennymoor have waited to see this development for many years but, unfortunately, with no private sector interest, this has been very difficult. With the help of Hellens Group and the flexibility that Towns and Villages brings, we have together found a solution.”
Hellens Group is leading the regeneration of Festival Walk and MGL Demolition is carrying out the demolition, with preparatory work beginning on site last month. Once demolition is complete, Hellens Group will begin constructing the new public car park and will also refurbish the remaining units to provide a very different and modern retail space.
This will be followed by the third phase of the scheme, which will enhance Spennymoor’s Market Place to ensure it is as appealing and welcoming to visitors as possible.
Cllr Marshall continued: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on town centres and the investments we are making through our Towns and Villages programme will play a vital role in helping County Durham communities to recover.
“The improvements underway in Spennymoor town centre will not only provide better facilities and a more pleasant environment for residents, but will reinstate the area’s reputation as a shopping destination, attracting more visitors, boosting the local economy and encouraging new retailers to invest in the town.”
Gavin Cordwell-Smith, chief executive of North East-based developer, Hellens Group, said: “We have been pleased to work alongside Durham County Council in planning the regeneration of Festival Walk for some time.
“Reaching this milestone in the demolition process moves us one step closer to delivering significant improvements which can be enjoyed by all residents of Spennymoor and the wider community.
“Once completed the shopping and visitor experience will be greatly enhanced, providing many benefits to residents in the area and to the local economy.”
Mark Davison, managing director of MGL Demolition, said: “Demolition work is progressing on site well. We are very happy as a Durham-based business to be supporting Hellens Group and Durham County Council on this project, which we are sure will provide fantastic benefits to the people of Spennymoor and the wider area.”
It is expected that the new look Festival Walk will be ready to welcome shoppers, businesses and visitors as soon as spring 2022.
To find out more about the Towns and Villages programme, visit www.durham.gov.uk/townsandvillages.