THE third phase of a multi-million pound town centre revamp has been delayed by utility work.

Churchill House and vacant retail units in Newton Aycliife town centre were due to be demolished in June to create an open plan shopping plaza.

Two months on and the building is still standing, with Freshwater, the private company that owns Aycliffe Shopping Centre, unable to give a date as to when work will progress.

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In a statement, the company said: “Works to demolish the offices and shops adjacent to the clock tower are expected to start as soon as

Northern Gas and Northern Electric have completed the job of disconnecting existing supplies to the property.”

Newton Aycliffe town centre has been transformed in recent years.

The unsightly concrete ramp and oppressive shop canopies have been removed and 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.

The former Woolworths and HSBC premises are also being refurbished and new signage and branding has been introduced to reflect the contemporary appearance of the shopping centre.

When Freshwater first revealed its plans to demolish Churchill House, many residents feared the clock tower would also disappear from the Newton Aycliffe Skyline.

However, concerns were eased when, in a planning application submitted last August, the company said the landmark would be retained as a separate structure.

Bryan Haldane, town centre manager, said:”I am delighted at the ongoing commitment the owners have demonstrated to Aycliffe and I am confident that new retailers will be attracted to the town centre.”