High street guru inspires town team to step up a gear

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Plans are being drawn up to turn Newbiggin into an important tourist hotspot after it received a grant of almost £30,000 to fund two community projects.

A recently appointed Portas Town Team is celebrating the prospect of new signage and other improvements to a national cycle route that will attract tourists to the town.

Funding will also be made available for the development of an arts hub for young people to learn creative skills such as photography, graphic design and film production.

The well-known ‘Coast and Castles’ route, which is part of the National Cycle Network from Dover to the Shetland Islands, runs past Newbiggin and is hugely popular with tourists.

However, a lack of signage and poor paths are doing little to attract the visitors to town centre amenities.

Now, thanks to a £19,000 donation from Rio Tinto, the path will provide cyclists with better access to venture along the promenade to the Maritime Centre and then back up onto the cycle route, taking in attractions such as Woodhorn Museum at nearby North Seaton and Newbiggin Bay’s offshore Couple sculpture

The Newbiggin Town Team has also been awarded a further £10,000 by Rio Tinto towards The Youth Zone, at Woodhorn Villa, Woodhorn Road, which aims to provide a creative arts venue for young people in the area who have very little in the way of activities and are often associated with anti-social behaviour.

Having already been selected as a government-funded ‘Portas Pilot’, Newbiggin Town Team is well on the way to reaching its target of £171,000 for a range of community initiatives.

Town team chairperson Lynn Burns said: “We are extremely grateful to Rio Tinto for its generous donation.

“Newbiggin is set for big changes in the coming months and we couldn’t be more excited.

“We are very excited to draw attention to the wonderful attractions in Newbiggin such as Woodhorn Colliery and the Maritime Centre.

“By improving the cycle routes and signage in the area we will attract tourists who will be able to experience all that Newbiggin has to offer.”

Joanne Hannay, regional economic development assistant at Rio Tinto, added: “It is brilliant that we are able to help Newbiggin through these two very worthwhile projects.

“We are aware of the tremendous work that the town team has done in identifying ways in which Newbiggin can become a more prosperous and better place in which to live, and we are more than happy to provide financial support.”