MOTORISTS have been warned of “major disruption” and “pain” as a result of major highway improvement works planned for the A174 through Loftus, in east Cleveland.

More than £1.3m is being spent on streetscape improvements, which are being paid for from an allocation from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund (FHSF), as well as area growth funding from Redcar and Cleveland Council.

They will include improvements to pavements, new and upgraded street lighting, a remodelling of the West Road/Zetland Road junction, new pedestrian crossings along the High Street and new on-street parking bays.

The works are scheduled to begin in May 2022 and could last up to a year.

The ultimate aim is to make the east Cleveland town more accessible and welcoming to residents, visitors and businesses.

Speaking at a recent cabinet meeting, council leader Mary Lanigan said: “There is going to be major disruption and it is going to cause problems, but there will be plenty of publicity going out about it [the works].”

Councillor Steve Kay added: “This is a great thing for east Cleveland. However we cannot make progress with our highways without suffering a bit of pain first.”

The six figure sum will also finance a revamp for the historic marketplace in Loftus, creating 18 new car parking spaces, and lead to the removal of overhead power lines and telegraph poles lining the A174 – which instead will be buried underground – with the aim of substantially reducing street "clutter".

An artists impression of spruced up Loftus High Street

An artist's impression of spruced up Loftus High Street

Separately, a new mini-roundabout is also being created a short way out of the town centre, near to the former Arlington Street methodist chapel, which will cost an estimated £118,867, work on which is due to begin in December.

Together with other already approved investments, the council envisages Loftus being turned into a “modern market town”.

A cabinet report said: “It is expected that there will be benefits for all Loftus residents, businesses and visitors, making it more comfortable to access, providing incentives for new economic activity and providing a safe environment for community-driven events.”

It added: “Applying for and delivering funds such as the Future High Streets Fund is part of our commitment to investing in our borough for the long term.

“Through funds such as these we are able to bring a fair share of resources to our borough and deliver improvements in a financially sustainable way.”

The council previously secured £5.8m from the FHSF, along with £3m from the Tees Valley Combined Authority’s Indigenous Growth Fund for Loftus in an effort to deliver a masterplan to turn around its fortunes.

The FHSF bid identified a number of issues in Loftus including little opportunity to stop and park within the vicinity of shops along the High Street, generally narrow footpaths in a number of locations and limited scope for cyclists to be able to mix with general traffic.