Plans to improve one of the major gateways to Middlesbrough are taking shape.
The Western Gateway – which includes the area long known as Cannon Park – is seen as a key element of the on-going programme of regeneration across the town.
The new proposals will see the creation of modern consumer-friendly shopping units, a new supermarket and improved transport links.
Significant improvements will be made to landscaping in the area, with enhanced pedestrian links between Cannon Park and the town centre.
A masterplan has now been drawn up and will be considered by Middlesbrough Council’s Executive when it meets on Tuesday, March 27.
The proposals follow research which showed that the majority of those looking to buy convenience and bulky goods were doing so outside the borough at locations such as Teesside Park and Portrack Lane in neighbouring Stockton.
The new layout is designed to attract such retailers and keep shoppers within the town.
The plans also include the redevelopment of the Sainsbury site at Wilson Street, with the company likely to seek another location in the town.
The first phase of the project – featuring a supermarket at the eastern end of Cannon Park and retail warehouses at the western end - is expected to take up to five years to complete.
The second stage, featuring the development of the central area of Cannon Park for further retail warehouse units and leisure uses, is expected to follow within five to ten years.
The Western Gateway initiative is expected to generate up to 1,500 new jobs, in addition to those involved in the development and construction phases.
The new business opportunities for major retail chains will bring private investment into the town of nearly £120 million, with associated training and recruitment initiatives.
Existing landowners and lease-holders have been consulted during the drawing up of the masterplan and will be involved as the project develops.
Support will be offered to existing businesses whose premises are affected by the proposals.
A four-week period of public consultation will follow the Executive’s discussion of the masterplan.
Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “The approaches to Middlesbrough are the town’s ‘shop window’, and vital in the first impression they give to visitors.
“The Western Gateway is a key part of the town, particularly for those arriving on the main routes from the north and south.
“It’s also important that we attract shoppers to the town instead of losing them to other areas because we don’t have the retail offer they require.
“This masterplan is a bold vision for the future of Cannon Park, and one that works alongside and complements the work being undertaken in other parts of the town centre.
“It is important to stress that this is a framework and not a blueprint – so it’s vital that we take on board the views of all those who will be affected to ensure the final scheme is one that carries the maximum possible benefit for the town.
“The aim is to create a thriving, 21st Century town centre which is a great place to visit, shop, do business and enjoy quality leisure time.
“These proposals represent a major step towards the achievement of that goal, and will further cement Middlesbrough’s status as the retail and commercial hub of the Tees Valley.”