The future for Billingham town centre is bright – but developers Stockland have told Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, it is going to take some time yet to deliver the change that local people want.
Alex, who promised during the general election campaign to work hard to encourage the redevelopment of Billingham and Stockton town centres, met with the Company’s Development Director, Simon Hoad at Westminster for a personal update on the plans and to stress again the need for fast and real change.
He also offered to meet with potential retailers face to face to help persuade them to invest in the town and play their part in breathing new life into the area.
“I was reassured to hear that Stockland are firmly committed to Billingham; that the investment money is available; and some is already being spent to improve the general appearance of the town centre. But we know that local people want to see real change,” said Alex.
“The company recognise the need to deliver on the food store and another major retailer which would help encourage others to come to the town and we look forward to more positive news soon.”
The banking crisis which so damaged the economy has affected progress but the company says it is confident that they can deliver the vision outlined to the public a few months ago.
“There is no doubt that the redeveloped Forum and planned multi-purpose health centre planned for the town centre will see thousands more people visit and retailers will reap the benefits,” said Alex.
“I know Stockton Borough Council is supportive and I offered to play my part in encouraging retailers to come to Billingham by hosting meetings in the town or at Westminster to tell them of the potential benefits of setting up shop there.”
Simon also updated Alex on the programme of ongoing refurbishment of the blocks, as well as, improving cleaning and the problems with the Queensway ramp which has been closed due to structural faults which rendered it unsafe. It is hoped that remedial works will see it re-opened soon.
“I have no doubt that Stockland are keen to make a success of Billingham Town Centre – but we all know that local people will only believe that real change is guaranteed when the all important food and other anchor stores are announced,” said Alex.
He has agreed to meet with the company on a regular basis to monitor progress and help wherever he can.