Councillor calls for more details about Ashington Town Centre redevelopment plans

Northumberland County Council is facing calls to provide more clarity on its plans for Ashington town centre.
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The town, one of the most deprived in Northumberland, is set to benefit from a £30m regeneration programme spread across three key sites. The funding is being provided by the council, the North of Tyne Combined Authority, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities' UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The projects will improve pedestrian movement from the new Ashington Station on the Northumberland Line through the High Street. It also includes an “attractive link” from Woodhorn Road to Portland Park, at the so-called “Grand Corner”.

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However, speaking at Wednesday’s meeting of the full Northumberland County Council, Labour’s Ashington Central councillor Caroline Ball pushed leading members of the Conservative led administration for more information about the project.

£30m will be spent on the regeneration programme in Ashington. (Photo by Google)£30m will be spent on the regeneration programme in Ashington. (Photo by Google)
£30m will be spent on the regeneration programme in Ashington. (Photo by Google)

She said: “I just want some clarification. With the Ashington project, I would like to see definitive dates.

“I am the ward councillor for Ashington Central, where most of these projects are and I have not seen a definitive plan. How can I sing and celebrate this money that has come to Ashington when it is 12 months since the fanfare and I still have not seen a finished plan? It’s meant to be delivered by 2026.”

Responding to Cllr Ball’s comments, the administration’s cabinet member for business Cllr Wojciech Ploszaj said: “I think all the outcome business cases are being delivered now and very soon we will move into full business cases.

“Then we will be able to give you definitive dates.”

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Council leader Glen Sanderson added: “If we take politics out of this for a second, we know that Blyth and Ashington need investment and we have needed it there for some time now.

“This is a big investment from the south of England up to us. Ashington is getting more than £30m.

“If we just park and look at it as human beings, how can we try and make political capital on a huge amount of money coming into two places that need investment? It is what we are doing in Ashington and Blyth and I just think it is so good.

“I think we should all work together on it.”

In December, the plans moved a step closer with the announcement that design teams had been appointed to take the plans forward. The design team will be led by Identity Consult, which includes Ryder Architects as the lead designer for Wansbeck Square.

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They will create detailed proposals for an attractive town centre gateway from the new railway station including “high quality public realm, landscaping, space for events and activities”, and potentially a new community facility.

Furthermore, Turner and Townsend were brought in by the council’s arms-length development company Advance Northumberland to progress the development of plans for a development of plans for a multi-screen cinema and restaurants at Portland Park further extending the leisure offer to this part of the town centre. GT3 Architects were appointed as the lead designers for this scheme.