AMBITIOUS plans to transform road and footpath links as part of a major redevelopment in the heart of Northallerton have been given the green light after a £3.2m grant.

The money paves the way for improvements and upgrades of yards and footpaths as well as changes to the road network in the centre of the town.

They will link the new Treadmills development on the site of the now demolished prison complex.

The hope is it will encourage people to spend more time in the town centre, parking up and walking rather than driving around the town.

The scheme, being promoted by Hambleton District Council, has been given the cash from the Government’s Local Growth Fund.

It was secured through the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership following the submission of a successful bid by the local authority.

The remainder of the work on the £4.5m project will be funded by the developers for Treadmills, the Central Northallerton Development Company Ltd and Northallerton business and traders group BID.

The scheme will see improvements to Zetland Street and key alleyways which will be used by pedestrians to cross from the town centre to Treadmills.

It also involves upgrades to the road network including linking the control of traffic lights along East Road to improve traffic flows and reduce congestion.

Hambleton Council Leader, Councillor Mark Robson, said: "This scheme will improve accessibility between the High Street and Treadmills.

"The prison has been in the town for two centuries but it has never generated much traffic or footfall, all that will change once it’s redeveloped.

"We want there to be strong connections between the town centre and this development and for road and pedestrian movements to be vastly improved.

"This scheme will do just that and will encourage people to come to visit and explore our market town."

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry, added: "This £3.2m investment from the Local Growth Fund will enable the creation of new pedestrian routes and works to improve traffic flow in Northallerton.

"The project will enhance the experience of residents and workers, encourage more visitors to the area, and support the extra footfall generated by future redevelopment projects in the area."

Work on the £17m Treadmills development is due to start in 2019 and will include a cinema, shops and eateries.