In 2007, the owners of Aycliffe Town Centre and the then Sedgefield Borough Council, Great Aycliffe Town Council and Durham County Council, came together to form a partnership to regenerate Newton Aycliffe town centre. A comprehensive Masterplan was prepared for the town with a vision to create a vibrant and inviting destination.
A key element of the Masterplan was to return the town centre to the original open ended street and to demolish the buildings at either end of the street which had resulted in an inward-looking centre.
10 years ago, in May, this Masterplan was presented at a public forum held within the Leisure Centre and achieved overwhelming support from the large number of people who attended.
With the support of the then Prime Minister Tony Blair and our now current MP Phil Wilson, the redevelopment plans were put in place and over the next decade the centre changed beyond all recognition.
The old ramp was removed, the portacabins that housed the library and medical centre on Greenwell Road were demolished, canopies taken off shop fronts and the entire area was repaved and redecorated.
New retailers such as Aldi, Wilko and Select were attracted to the centre and existing shops such as Café Pronto moved from the upper walkway to new larger premises.
To bring the Masterplan to fruition, over £5m has been invested in the centre with the latest addition being the new Library which recently opened in the Leisure Centre.
The dramatic change taken place resulted in the centre winning a Gold Award from the British Council of Shopping Centres and nominated for the RICS North East Renaissance awards.
This month, the refurbishment of the iconic clock tower was completed and Phil Wilson MP whose involvement in the centre redevelopment has been key to its progress, officially relaunched the tower.