THREE North-East towns will share £83.2m to boost their local economies, create jobs and help them build back from the pandemic under new Towns Deals unveiled today.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that Bishop Auckland will get a £33.2m cash injection, while Redcar and Hartlepool will get £25m each.

The money will help them to grow their local economies, while also “carving out new opportunities to reshape the look and feel of their areas”.

Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison said: “I am really excited by the news. It was in my election pledges to help rejuvenate high streets across the constituency, and this is the second major funding pot Bishop Auckland has received for the town centre since my election.

“I worked with the Town Board and Durham County Council to pull together and submit the bid, which will see some big and exciting changes that will benefit Bishop Auckland itself, and the wider area.

“Since starting work on the bid, I’ve been lobbying the Government non-stop, so I am delighted all the hard work has paid off and there’ll be a brighter future for Bishop.”

Durham county councillor Andy Jackson added: “The extra money secured for Bishop’s future success illustrates both Dehenna’s and the government’s commitment to ensuring the long-term realisation of both levelling up and the ongoing prosperity of the town and its people. It is an award that should be welcomed by all.”

Redcar MP Jacob Young said the huge investment in Redcar town will unleash a raft of big ticket projects to improve the town.

He added: “This £25million investment is the maximum grant that the Government could have awarded Redcar.

“It’s a huge figure that allows us to press ahead with a raft of shovel-ready projects which, together, will greatly improve the look and feel of the town for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.

“Plans include improving the look and feel of the high street, renovating the properties on Station Road, which is a key gateway to the town, we’re investing in a new outdoor watersports centre at Coatham and a new indoor activity centre on the esplanade.

“Now we need to work on how we can attract other investment into other parts of the borough as well, I’m thinking specifically of Eston High Street and the redevelopment of the precinct there, Eston Leisure Centre’s swimming baths as well.

“But this is a fantastic first step for our area. It’s all happening in Redcar and I want to thank the Government for backing us with this £25million investment. It’s great to be a part of it.”

Town Deals build directly on the government’s commitment to decentralise funding and decisions away from Whitehall, invest in the growth of local economies and devolve powers through ambitious City and Growth Deals, providing more than £9billion of funding to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and introducing 8 metro mayors in England.

The government is working with councils and LEPs to create better transport links, more connectivity and world-class education opportunities across the country.

Hartlepool will invest part of their £25m deal in a new Health and Care Academy and a Civil Engineering Institute to boost local skills as part of plans to support more higher-skilled, higher-paid jobs in the local area.

Development proposals include further town centre regeneration, including the re-imagining of the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre to create a clearly-defined mixed heart for the town centre; connectivity improvements to better link the marina, town centre and railway station; and health and civil engineering training institutes that will enable local people to develop new skills.

Councillor Shane Moore, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “To get the full amount that we bid for is tremendous news, and means that we are now able to press ahead with our ambitious plans.

“The Town Deal is a real game changer in terms of shaping the town’s future, and its importance cannot be overstated. I’d like to thank everyone who has played a part in securing this money, their hard work and commitment to the town is much appreciated.”

Councillor Paddy Brown, Chair of the Council’s Economic Growth and Regeneration Committee, added: “The impact of the proposed developments in their own right will be huge, but they will also act as a catalyst for further investment in the town.”

Hartlepool was one of 100 towns across England invited to develop innovative regeneration plans and potentially secure up to £25 million through the Government’s Towns Fund initiative.

As part of the process of securing a Town Deal, a Town Investment Plan setting out proposed developments and how they would be delivered within a five-year period was drafted. Work on this was carried out throughout 2020 – a very challenging time due to the pandemic - and submitted to the Government at the end of January.

The whole process was led by the Hartlepool Town Deal Board - chaired by local businessman Alby Pattison and comprising representatives of the local public, private and voluntary sectors - and shaped by consultation with the local community.

Now that the Town Deal has been approved, work will begin in earnest to develop projects in more detail, with further input from local residents seen as vital.

Mr Pattison said: “During the development of the Town Investment Plan, the consultation process was well supported by local people and businesses, a factor which undoubtedly helped us to secure the £25 million. I’d like to thank everyone for their invaluable contributions and would urge them to stay involved. We will be providing more details of how they can do that in due course.”

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We are levelling up towns and cities across the country by building stronger and more resilient local economies, boosting prosperity and opportunity in our communities, and helping them build back better from the pandemic.

“Today I am announcing new town deals in 26 areas, backed by over £610 million investment from the Towns Fund. This will support locally-led projects to transform disused buildings and public spaces, deliver new green transport and create new opportunities for people to develop new skills. This is a boost for communities and businesses across England.”

Today’s announcement means that 79 Towns Deals have now been agreed - totalling over £2 billion investment in communities across England.

This is part of comprehensive action by the government to level up opportunity and prosperity across all areas of the country, including through the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, the £220 million Community Renewal Fund and the £830 million Future High Streets Fund.

Mr Jenrick said building successful, thriving communities is at the heart of the Government’s levelling up agenda.