A major scheme to improve the look of Ashington’s main shopping street has been completed.
The six-month work on Station Road was completed on Monday with a special ceremony featuring invited guests and local traders.
The project by Northumberland County Council is designed to boost local trade, improve the look of the street and help deliver wider economic benefits as part of the town’s ongoing regeneration.
The current pedestrianisation of Station Road dates from the early 1990s and was introduced in an effort to help stimulate local trade.
Work on the £1.5m scheme started in May and will now to re-open to traffic early on Tuesday – one-way westbound from Grand Corner.
There will be 30 on-street parking bays to include six disabled parking spaces. The parking bays will be restricted to 30 minutes parking with no return for two hours, while the disabled bays will have a two hour limit.
The street will be a “controlled zone” which means that there will be no waiting or loading at any time except in these marked bays.
Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services, said: “It’s great that this work is now complete and to see how the street has been transformed over the past six months.
“There was a great deal of support from the local community to re-open Station Road to traffic and the shops should benefit from increased passing trade, which in turn will improve the viability and quality of high street retail and services.
Council Leader Grant Davey added: “Having seen this fantastic completed project we would like to further expand short term parking near shops in more of our market towns, where there is space to do so, to help people conduct their everyday business such as collecting shopping and doing their banking.”
“This has proven its worth in Amble and Alnwick and the set-up is excellent here in Ashington – but the parking limits will be adhered to and strongly enforced to ensure everyone can benefit from the change.”
Ashington Councillor Brian Gallacher said: “The work has created a real buzz around the town centre and represents the latest phase of a range of improvements in the area.
“In Station Road we’re also progressing schemes to improve shop-fronts and regenerate the market, while in the wider town the new leisure centre goes from strength to strength and work will be starting soon on a new council headquarters. These are exciting times for Ashington.”
Michelle Brannigan, Ashington Town team Co-ordinator, said: “Ashington Town Team very much welcome this regeneration of the town centre.
“The work will provide much needed passing trade while the pedestrian area on the north side will allow for events and markets to attract people into the town centre. We are looking forward to the town centre once again becoming a booming shopping destination.”