A £40million bid is being made as part of ambitious plans for Teesside.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is submitting a £40million bid to the Government’s Levelling Up fund as part of its ambitious plans for Billingham town centre, Yarm town centre and the further development of Preston Park.

The two £20million bids for the constituencies of Stockton North and Stockton South are for major proposals forming part of the ongoing town centres investment programme led by the council, together with an opportunity for new facilities in Preston Park including a new exhibition space, café and toilets and car parking.

Bids for round one of the funding are to be submitted on Friday and have been developed in full consultation with both MPs.

The council already has well-developed plans for its six town centres and longstanding ambitions to enhance sustainable travel activities and enrich visitor experiences, which provides the ideal opportunity to align this funding opportunity with its existing ambitions.

Proposals include addressing the physical condition of Billingham town centre in support the council’s ambition to take back control of the centre.

Redevelopment would solve the challenges of changing retail trends that are contributing towards excess retail space and high vacancy rates.

This includes exploring options for mixed-use redevelopment and high-quality public spaces that improve accessibility within the town centre and a modern retail offering.

For Yarm, enhancements to existing pavement and seating areas to support outdoor seating and dining opportunities is being proposed, along with the redevelopment of the town hall into a visitor centre with new toilet facilities and a community learning space.

Proposals to develop Preston Park, one of Tees Valley’s leading tourist attractions, by extending the museum into an exhibition centre and gallery space, with additional access and infrastructure improvements are also being submitted.

Matt Vickers, MP for Stockton South said: "Our ambition with this money is to build the biggest exhibition centre north of Manchester right here in Preston Park. This project will provide countless jobs and opportunities to the locality."

“This exhibition centre will be accompanied by major improvements to Preston Park with state of the art parking, new toilet facilities and a brand spanking new coffee shop.

“Part of our bid also looks at long overdue improvements in Yarm, including new public toilets, a refurbishment of Yarm Town Hall and investment in new cycle routes connecting Yarm to Hartburn.

“This is a really exciting time for our area and I’m hopeful that we can get the green light to go ahead with our impressive list of projects and transform our local area.”

Connectivity between Preston Hall and Yarm High Street and other key employment sites would also be enhanced by improved cycle links across the Yarm Eaglescliffe areas.

Councillor Nigel Cooke, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: “We already have exciting plans for our town centres and there is clear alignment with these existing ambitions and the opportunity for Levelling Up funding.

“We’re seizing this opportunity and a great deal of work has gone into this to ensure that we meet the criteria and stand a great chance of being successful in securing investment into our communities that could be transformed by a £40million bid.

“It still remains our ambition to purchase, take back control of Billingham town centre and repurpose the town centre through a number of physical interventions.

“Yarm is an attractive and diverse location for residents and visitors, funding would help secure its long-term future by attracting new visitors to the town.

“Development at Preston Park would also contribute to the image and identity of the Borough, setting it apart from other areas and of course, making it easier for residents to access cultural opportunities on their doorsteps.”

A decision on the outcome of the bids for round one is expected in Autumn 2021.