A MAJOR new £17m regeneration scheme for the heart of Northallerton is taking shape with the steel framework now starting to rise out of the old prison site.

The Treadmills scheme is due to bring new retail, parking and leisure facilities into the town following the demolition of most of the buildings, gatehouse and surrounding walls of the former prison site.

Leeds-based contractor Castlehouse Construction began work on phase one of the scheme in October last year, and are hoping to complete it by summer this year.

The prison site was bought by Hambleton District Council from the Ministry of Justice in 2015, two years after it was closed as a jail. The council has entered into a partnership with developers, Wykeland Group to create the Central Northallerton Development Company Ltd to carry out work to transform the site.

Northallerton Prison had been home to tens of thousands of inmates since it was opened as the first custom built jail in England in 1783, and is thought to be the reason why Northallerton became the County Town.

The first phase will create three retail units as well as a car park on the south side of the site.

The two larger retail units will be occupied by supermarket group Lidl, the retail anchor for the site, and frozen food specialist Iceland. No information has been given so far on who will be taking over the last 1,300 sq metre retail unit which will complete the southern part of the first phase.

The northern part of the site, including five Grade II listed former prison blocks which had to be preserved, forms part of the second phase of the development and will restore and refurbish the buildings to bring them back into use.

Work is expected to start on them next year. On completion CNDCL say they will be seeking occupiers for part of the former prison buildings from digital technology companies, specialists and freelancers to form a community managed by the Hull-based Centre for Digital Innovation.

Future phases are due to feature a four-screen cinema operated by operator Everyman, as well as restaurants and residential apartments arranged around a civic square. When finished the site is due to provide 250 permanent jobs with 180 people employed during construction.

Richard Lumley, Chairman of Castlehouse said: "We are pleased to be delivering the first phase of this exciting regeneration development, with the steelworks rising this is the first key construction milestone for the project.

"We are expecting to reach midway in February, followed by topping out in the second quarter.. At present, we are making significant progress on site and we remain on target for planned completion in June 2020."