Bid to be submitted for £16million improvements at Portland Park and Wansbeck Square in Ashington

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A multi-million pound bid is being submitted to Government for transformational improvements to Ashington town centre.

A bid for over £16m will be made to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF) - a £4.8 billion scheme for eligible local authorities to invest in infrastructure.

Northumberland County Council and its development company Advance Northumberland, along with the North of Tyne Combined Authority, would also provide additional match funding, meaning that a successful bid would deliver improvements in the town centre of well over £20m.

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The work is being done in collaboration with the Ashington Town Board which is made up of business, public sector, and community leaders. The public have also been involved in shaping the plans.

Cllr Wojciech Ploszaj and Bernicia Homes chief executive John Johnston in Wansbeck Square, Ashington.Cllr Wojciech Ploszaj and Bernicia Homes chief executive John Johnston in Wansbeck Square, Ashington.
Cllr Wojciech Ploszaj and Bernicia Homes chief executive John Johnston in Wansbeck Square, Ashington.

The ambitious bid focuses on two areas – Wansbeck Square and Portland Park.

In Wansbeck Square the plan is to demolish the existing outdated building and build a new attractive facility incorporating a creative hub for young people, a community hub, a performance space, a council customer service centre and a café.

The project will also include a new green space to provide a much-improved entrance to Ashington next to the new train station – being built as part of the Northumberland Line.

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And at Portland Park, part of the LUF bid is for the new six-screen cinema complex and two restaurants as planned on the site for some time.

Separately, work to improve connectivity between Grand Corner through to Portland Park from Station Road will also be undertaken as a complementary project with funding from the North of Tyne Combined Authority and the county council.

Cllr Wojciech Ploszaj, Northumberland County Council’s cabinet member for business, said: “This is a real milestone for a major redevelopment of key parts of the town centre.

“So much work has gone into preparing this bid and it’s down to the commitment of everyone involved, from residents and businesses through to councillors, Town Board members and all the other partners that we have this ambitious bid to transform the area.”

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John Johnston, chief executive of Bernicia and chairman of the Ashington Town Board, added: “I firmly believe the projects in the bid will be of great benefit to both residents and visitors and will act as a catalyst for further economic growth in our town.”

The news was also welcomed by Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery whose invite to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove to visit the town to see the urgent investment needed was turned down.

Mr Lavery said: “It is positive news to see this step forward and a bid officially being submitted to the government for long overdue investment into Ashington town centre.

"Stakeholders in Ashington, including myself, have been working for months if not years to get this bid to this stage and what has been produced so far as a result of the discussions amongst those sitting on the Town Board is promising.

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"I have tirelessly called for more investment into our region in Parliament since I was elected over a decade ago and have been vocal on the need for the Government’s levelling up policy to put substantial investment into towns like Ashington in my constituency if it is to be a success.”