NEWS of the continuing work to redevelop the site of Northallerton’s former prison will be music to the ears of residents of the area, who will no doubt be tiring of the large, empty building looming over them.

Plans for the 3.5 acre site include a cinema, shops, restaurants, offices and apartments, as well as a community and heritage centre and a digital hub for use in partnership with universities.

It will bring a much-needed injection of life to the area of town, and possible talks around making Zetland Street oneway to make a larger pedestrianised space will give the town a greater sense of space and encourage more visitors to the market town’s High Street.

The town’s growth is continuing at pace – with hundreds of new homes being built at North Northallerton, and the former Rural Payments Agency building being taken on by North Yorkshire Police as its new headquarters – so the development can only be a good thing to cater for new residents and employees of the town.

It is good news indeed for the town after the severe blows of 2013 which saw the closure of the prison and the Rural Payments Agency, which resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs.

After such a long period of uncertainty, those interested in the town may now have a better picture of what the future holds, which will come as welcome relief as many of the High Street retailers were concerned about competition from the now-approved Scotch Corner retail development.

With a greater retail offering of its own to complement what is already available on the High Street, Northallerton should have a bright future ahead.