Over the last five years, Freshwater, the company that owns the town centre, has transformed the tired shopping area into a modern and open environment.
The unsightly concrete ramp and oppressive shop canapés have been removed, new paving, seating and a spiral staircase have been installed.
New retailers, including Aldi and Wilko’s, have opened stores and existing businesses have been encouraged to expand.
Gary Hale, director of Bisham Asset Management, which manages the town centre on behalf of Freshwater, said: “The work done so far has made a big difference.
“The town centre was closed in and we wanted to open it up and make it a more attractive and friendly environment. "This will help us attract new retailers and we are already starting to see this take effect.”
Mr Hale, who attended a meeting of Great Aycliffe Town Council last night (Wednesday, April 23) with town centre manager, Bryan Haldane, said the next phase would begin in June.
Churchill House will be demolished to create a spacious and accessible plaza, while the clock tower will be retained as a town landmark.
Councillor Bob Fleming asked whether the market would be re-launched and was told professional market companies had been approached for advice on how to attract new traders.
Concerns about anti-social youths congregating in the centre were also addressed.
Mr Haldane said: “The police already have access to a vacant unit at night.
"We hope that when Churchill House comes down, and centre is more visible, it will become less of a problem.”