Hundreds of residents have had their say over plans for the future of Bedlington town centre.
The event allowed members of the public to consider future proposals and meet representatives of Northumberland County Council, Active Northumberland and Arch.
More than 600 people attended the session, held at Bedlington Library, and gave their views and suggestions.
It was also a chance for people to meet and ask questions of Bedlington’s new town champion – Dean Jackson, one of nine senior council officers who have been nominated to help take forward the proposals for each of the county’s main market towns.
Dean said: “This event is the latest step in progressing ambitious plans for the future.
“During the day I had discussions with representatives from a number of organisations including West Bedlington Town Council, East Bedlington Town Council, Make A Noise for Bedlington, the Bedlington Forum and the Bedlington Partnership, Bedlington Boxing Club as well as residents.
“Conversations were wide-ranging and a number of key issues emerged. These included increased youth and leisure provision, a need for more small and medium-sized business/retail units in the redeveloped sites, ideas for reflecting and celebrating the town’s history and the centrality of the Tesco car park to the success of the town.
“A strong desire to work together as one town was also evident.
“I will be feeding the views of residents back to the key stakeholders and will engage in further conversations with the Bedlington representatives.”
Coun Grant Davey, county council leader, said: “There was a fantastic turnout which demonstrates the level of interest and passion that people have for the town and I’d like to thank everyone for coming along.”
“I am also extremely pleased that we have already been able to put one of next steps in place – with the announcement of an open design competition to kick-start the regeneration of the former Tesco site – a very important area of the town centre.”
The open design competition has been arranged by Arch, The Northumberland Development Company, with the support of Northern Architecture
The open competition will help meet local aspirations for the site, focussing on the long-term sustainability of Bedlington.
It will be run by Northern Architecture, and will culminate in a public exhibition in January 2016 which will give local people the chance to view and comment on shortlisted entries, ensuring that the winning design has the support of the local community.
The winning architects will be appointed to develop plans for the site with the aim of achieving planning permission in summer 2016, with construction of early phases of development starting before the end of 2016.