AN ambitious £15.4 million bid to transform and regenerate a town centre creating space for open air events, a craft yard and leisure areas for locals and visitors is being made to the government.

Northallerton is one of 101 towns across the country to go forward for Future High Streets Funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government with over £1 billion up for grabs.

Hambleton District Council was asked to come up with a business case to back applications for cash. They have to persuade the government the plans will take the town forward, reinventing existing services and attractions.

The aim of the fund is to reverse the downward trends that have dogged many town centres and high streets over the past few years.

The council says the vision for Northallerton, for which it is applying for £7.1 million, moves the town beyond its current reliance on existing retail trade.

The ambitious plans have been pulled together with leisure time in mind and aims to build upon the town’s bedrock as a shopping centre by creating a better night time economy with more cultural and leisure opportunities and uncovering its hidden historical heritage.

The scheme includes Treadmills, the £17m redevelopment of the town’s former prison which in phase two will see a cinema, restaurant, cafes and an education centre for over 18 year-olds.

On the High Street there will be an emphasis on living spaces above shops as well as an artisan craftyard and increased public space around the Town Hall to include new planting and seating, places for outdoor market stalls and events.

“This is a very exciting development for Hambleton,” said council leader councillor Mark Robson.

“If this space is opened up we can make it suitable for events, and develop the High Street as a place for people to linger and enjoy. Ensuring that the new Treadmills development and the High Street work together will also benefit the town.

“As the hub of the town, in the heart of Northallerton, it will provide a pleasant space for people to meet, relax and enjoy spending their leisure time. That in turn will improve the economy as people choose to come here and spend more time.”

Councillors will consider the submission for funding at their meeting on July 7. It has to be submitted to the housing and communities minister by the end of July with successful bids announced by the end of September.

Mayor of Northallerton, Councillor David Richardson said:”We are really excited about working with Hambleton District Council to enhance Northallerton for residents and visitors alike, this transformational scheme will undoubtedly add a much needed boost to the Town economy, facilities and outlook for many years to come.”