A MASTERplan to regenerate Stockton's town centre and Riverside area has been approved by council chiefs.

A report has been compiled detailing proposals to revamp the heart of the town.

The report will now be used as the basis for an action plan, which will go out to public consultation early next year.

The aims of the brief were to:

* Improve linkages between the town centre and the riverfront.

* Unlock the potential of the riverside, including the Southern Gateway, Castlegate Quay and Boathouse Lane sites.

* Securing substantial private and public investment.

Councillor Bob Cook, Stockton Borough Council's cabinet member for regeneration and transport, said: "The report has both long-term visionary and inspirational aims, as well as short-term goals.

"This report presents a conceptual and visionary approach to overseeing change and creating a rejuvenated town centre and Riverside area.

"The work on Stockton town centre comes alongside the regeneration of Thornaby town centre, which continues apace.

"And the news that Halladale has bought Mars' interest in Billingham town centre is a further step forward in the town's redevelopment."

Proposals for Stockton include a new Southern gateway site, with commercial and leisure use, and a supermarket development in the Castlegate Centre.

Lathe Investments is currently in early discussions with supermarket operators and it is envisaged that once an anchor supermarket is in place, it will act as a catalyst for future private sector investment to the immediate south.

Outline planning permission has been granted for a 61,000sq ft food store and a 643-space multi-storey car park, along with other small units.

Ashley Blake, of Lathe Investments, said: "Improving the town centre's retail offer, to compete with out-of-town competition and other developments in the region, is key to its long-term success.

"Stockton council has a strong vision for the town centre, and we look forward to working in partnership with them to implement it."

Funding bids will now be submitted and consultation with key stakeholders and members of the public will be carried out in the new year.