TWO new business have opened in a Darlington shopping centre, adding shoe repairs and a children's play space to the mix.

Jemma Ransom, of Little Learners Playspace, and Darlington MP Peter Gibson cut a ribbon at the new site within at lunch time on Saturday, September 19, officially opening the children's activity centre.

Multi award-winning Little Learners offers educational messy play classes for babies to pre-schoolers.

Ms Ranson said: “We are so excited to bring our award-winning early mark making classes to the Cornmill Centre.

"Little Learners Playspace is a unique children’s activity centre designed and run by qualified early years teachers.

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"We specialise in helping children gain vital literacy and handwriting skills before they start school through our imaginative messy play classes. We can’t wait to begin our new venture in the centre of Darlington, and to welcome a whole generation of new Little Learners to our new home.”

The business, which is off to a positive start with Saturday's launch party selling out, also has a shop where parents can purchase play supplies and educational resources.

Families must book each to get involved, which can be done online, with activities including themed 'Halloween Spooktacular' sessions in October half term.

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Also popping up at weekend was Hannigan’s Shoe Repairs, which offers quality services including key cutting, shoe care and repair, watch straps, batteries and more.

William Hannigan, of Hannigan’s Shoes repairs, said: “After trading in the indoor market for 32 years I am very excited to become part of the Cornmill Shopping Centre here in Darlington.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my loyal customers who have supported me over the years and I look forward to continuing serving you in the Cornmill.”

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Cornmill Centre manager Susan Young welcomed both businesses, saying she is "thrilled" to have them as two of 40 shops.

David Charlton, asset manager for NewRiver, which owns the shopping centre, said: “We are really pleased to continue bringing new retailers to the Cornmill, which has continued to build momentum very strongly post lockdown, and have further exciting new store openings which we expect to announce very soon.

"Independent businesses like Hannigan’s are hugely important to Darlington town centres shopping offer and really help to compliment our high street favourites such as Primark, Next, Waterstones and Superdrug.

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“The Little Learners addition to the Centre reflects the changing landscape, where more traditional retail space can be repurposed for uses that complement the existing retail offer and provide an important community use. The Cornmill Centre provides the perfect environment to do this.”

The new offerings come just weeks after Julies of Darlington also relocated from Darlington Market and into the centre.