Buses will be rolling off the five stands at the new Hexham Bus Station from today.
The £2.28million investment in public services and regeneration for the town saw an official opening ceremony yesterday.
Symbolising the move from the old to the new, a 1949 Bristol single-decker, ex-United Automobile, from the Aycliffe and District Bus Preservation Society, drove guests from the old bus station to the new facilities, at Loosing Hill.
At the new station, the vintage bus joined one of Go North East’s modern Tynedale Links vehicles, where the opening ceremony was conducted by Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, and Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services.
Funding for the new development has come from Northumberland County Council and includes a grant of £300,000 from the North East Rural Growth Network’s Strategic Economic Infrastructure Fund.
Coun Davey spoke at the event about the council’s investment in the market town of Hexham, which includes the bus station, a new fire station, a new wedding and accommodation venue, a new hub for frontline council services and recently-announced plans for a new multi-storey car park.
He said: "This is a further piece in the investment jigsaw for our market towns. Here in Hexham, we are constructing a new fire station just across the road behind the hospital and redeveloping the grade II-listed Hexham House to make a beautiful wedding venue and provide holiday accommodation that will bring much more business to the town.
"We are also investing in bringing a range of frontline council services together, with easy access, at the Queen's Hall, and have just announced plans to build a new multi-storey car park in the town to manage the growing number of workers, shoppers and visitors. As a council, we are proud of our work and investments in making great places like Hexham even better."
The new bus station provides modern facilities for passengers, including an enclosed waiting area, toilets, refreshments and travel information. There are also facilities for bus company staff.
The attractive building was designed by plus three architecture (+3A) to reflect the past, present and future of Hexham as a thriving market town. The design provides a connection to the character of the town and creates a distinctive new place within the urban fabric. The building features natural sandstone, glass windows with stained panelling, wooden seating and planting areas.
Building the new bus station at Loosing Hill has released a prime development site on Priestpopple near the town centre.
Dysart Developments Limited has gained planning permission for the site, which will include new shops, housing and a pedestrian route to town centre parking and further retail at the Marks and Spencer and B&M Stores site. The scheme will provide 2,466m2 of commercial floorspace, 31 apartments and five affordable homes, and is expected to generate in the region of 126 jobs.