HUNDREDS of traders and residents are objecting to a plan to rip up cobbles around the Town Hall in Yarm, replacing them with a flat purple surface.

Stockton Borough Council is investing £500,000 in Yarm High Street, some of which is to improve access around the town hall and war memorial.

Part of this process is ripping up the cobbles near the town hall and replacing them with a flatter stone surface, which the borough council insists will be “sympathetic” to Yarm’s character.

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But Yarm Chamber of Trade has objected to the new surface, saying that no information was readily available about it. Yarm Residents’ Association has also complained, and has already gathered hundreds of objections.

Stephanie Richardson, of the town’s Strickland and Holt store and a member of the chamber of trade, said: “It seems a large area around the town hall is to be dug up and the cobbles replaced with porphyry blocks.

“We were informed there would be major disruption in the centre of town for 12 weeks from the end of April onwards.”

But she said she had struggled to find more information about the new surface and argued that the residents of the town should have their chance to see and comment on the proposal.

Jason Hadlow, of Yarm Residents’ Association, said: “Yarm Town Hall has been set among the cobbles since the 17th century. English Heritage states that the setting of an historic building is as important as the building itself. We have consulted with our residents and can see no support for this. Currently we have over 700 objections and only one supporter for the plan.”

Councillor Mike Smith, Stockton Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and transport, said: “These are high quality improvements using high quality materials and will be sympathetic to the High Street’s unique character and attractive environment.”

He said it would make access to the area around the town hall easier for people with pushchairs and prams.