13 July 2008

Council backs plans to restore building

AMBITIOUS plans to turn the clock back in a town's high street have moved a step nearer.
Stockton Borough Council's cabinet has backed plans to return the 1825 Shambles building in the centre of the town's High Street to its old use as an indoor market selling fresh produce.
The authority has agreed to borrow £180,000 to get the scheme under way, in addition to £91,000 already earmarked for the project.
Officials believe the revamped Grade II listed building will attract high-quality, specialist and niche food retailers selling organic and Fairtrade goods and local produce.
The Shambles used to be a focal point of the town centre, but market traders moved into the Spencer Hall, part of the Castlegate shopping mall, in the 1970s.
The Shambles was redeveloped with small kiosk units which are now too small for many types of business and no longer suitable for fresh produce.
Sue Burgess, town centre and markets service manager for Stockton, said the new-look Shambles will complement the Castlegate centre on one side and the Wellington Square shopping precinct on the other.
She predicted: "It will be as much a destination as a place to shop and I think it will increase the footfall in the High Street. I think its effect will be to give people more reason to come in and use this area of the High Street.
"We have been talking to a lot of producers interested in moving into the Shambles."
Most existing tenants of the Shambles were last year given six months notice to leave. The notice period ends this month. Three will continue to trade in the building.
Bainbridge Carpets will be the last to leave. A spokeswoman for the firm, which has been trading in the Shambles for the past 25 years, said: "We are out and there is nothing we can do about it. The people of Stockton are not pleased, but there is nothing to be done. We are just sick and have had enough."

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