A REVAMPED household waste recycling centre has opened to the public after nearly a year of closure.

Durham County Council has transformed Stainton Grove HWRC in Barnard Castle into a modern facility, featuring additional recycling skips and a new shop where used goods can be sold on.

Yesterday, Councillor John Lethbridge, chairman of the council, cut the ribbon to officially reopen the £3million centre following the completion of the work.

This includes the creation of an area for small businesses to deposit trade waste, which is set to open within the next few weeks.

Oliver Sherratt, the council’s head of environment, said: “I know the people of Teesdale are passionate about recycling and we are delighted to welcome them into this new and more customer-friendly facility.

“The previous centre at Stainton Grove was very small, which limited the variety of items that could be recycled there.

“Opening hours had also been reduced to weekends only to ease traffic congestion. The new facility, however, will be open seven days a week and is much bigger, meaning people can recycle even more items.”

Stainton Grove HWRC was closed last April to enable the work to be carried out.

Unforeseen circumstances, including harder than envisaged ground material and the depth of existing utilities, led to a short delay with the work. However, these problems were overcome, allowing the centre to open before Easter, a time when use of HWRCs increases.

After taking a tour of the site with his wife, Sandra, Cllr Lethbridge, said the council had been trying to resolve the issue with the site since 2005 but it was "wonderful" to see a brand new facility up and running, especially with the added facilities for businesses with trade waste too.

HW Martin Waste Limited is running the centre on behalf of the council. It will initially operate during winter opening hours, which are 9.30am to 3.30pm, but from April to September it will be open from 9am to 6pm.

It will only be closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Durham County Councillor for Barnard Castle West, Richard Bell, was also present at the opening and said he was pleased to see the site back open after such a long time.

"It's obviously a very impressive facility and much easier to used compared to the old one," he said. "Hopefully people will think it's worth the wait."

A full list of items which are accepted at the site and the shop can be found at durham.gov.uk/hwrc or by calling 03000-260000.