Work underway on Kingsway Square space and car park

Work has started on a new greenspace and car park that will link Newgate Street and Kingsway in Bishop Auckland.

The transformation of the area includes a new car park with 70 short-stay spaces, electric vehicle charging, cycle storage and retail-fronted access through to Newgate Street. Demolition has been completed on the site with civil works now underway.

Kingsway Square will feature ‘urban garden’-style landscaped recreation and pedestrianised areas with outdoor seating, space for children to play and be lit with ambient lighting.

The former Millets and Priceless Shoes units have been demolished

On the Kingsway side of the development the Masonic Hall is undergoing conversion to become 10 apartments with an art space and office on the ground floor.

For Edward Perry, Chief Executive Officer at The Auckland Project, the new development symbolises change.

“This car park has brought in about £12m worth of private investment into the buildings around the car park which is mid-way down Newgate Street and the buildings are finding new uses.”

Edward says that so far in 2024 the project has seen three times as many visitors as in 2023.

“We’ve got to encourage those visitors to flow up Fore Bondgate and down Newgate Street to shop at the very many independent retailers we hope to attract.”

Meanwhile on Newgate Street a former shoe shop and pub will become the Jord restaurant, run by Masterchef contestant Mike Bartley. The former Burtons store is being converted into a bar which will be run by local brewery Caps Off.

Work to create 10 holiday apartments is also underway. In total the developments will see the revitalisation of approximately 3,000m² of disused land and buildings.

L-R Andrew Walker, Bishop Auckland Programme Manager, DCC, Graham Thomas, Private Investor, Edward Perry, CEO, The Auckland Project, Cllr Richard Bell, Deputy Leader, Durham County Council

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “Our ambitious plans to regenerate Bishop Auckland are now in full swing as visible work is taking place on the ground at Kingsway Square and across the town.

“These exciting plans form an integral part of our investment plans for reinvigorating the north end of the town and complements the millions being invested to improve transport connections, create brand new commercial and leisure facilities and develop significant cultural attractions.

“We will continue to work with our partners to transform Bishop Auckland into a thriving place that the local community and visitors can enjoy for years to come.”

Caps Off Brewery will open a bar on the corner of Victoria Avenue and Newgate Street

Councillor Richard Bell, deputy leader of Durham County Council, thinks the development will make a big difference when it’s completed.

“Part of our aim is to make Bishop Auckland not just a place where people come for a day and local residents come and shop. Also to make it a destination so that people will come and stay to bring enough attractions to Bishop Auckland and have a pleasant environment so that people will actually come here and stay for a night or two,” said Councillor Bell.

Kingsway Square and the surrounding mixed-use private developments is a £12 million joint initiative between The Auckland Project, Durham County Council and private sector developers with funding coming from the UK government’s Future High Streets Fund and Stronger Towns Fund.

Since Fifteas Vintage Tearoom opened in Bishop Auckland manager Becci Nye has seen the changes in the Market Place.

“When we came to the Market Place the tower wasn’t even built, so we’ve seen huge changes.”

Becci says the business opened on the back of the promises of the things that were coming to the town and tourism. Footfall has increased with many new faces in the cafe at a weekend as visitors eat and drink before heading off to explore.

“We kind of saw the seeds being sewn, and now finally eight years later we’re actually watching them grow, start to blossom.”

Demolition work recently commenced on Newgate Street ahead of STACK’s arrival in Bishop Auckland at the former WH Smith and Mothercare sites.