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Advertisement feature - Regeneration strategy still delivering in Blyth.

Last year saw two major attractions delivered to the people of Blyth Valley in the form of the first phase of refurbishment of Ridley Park and the Maritime Festival which formed part of the NGI (Newcastle Gateshead Initiative) Tall Ships and Rivers and Seas Festival.

The importance of these activities is that they both attracted residents and visitors alike, not only to the quayside but also to the adjacent areas of the parks, links and town centre. The award-winning Blyth quayside with its new buildings and transformed environment has led the regeneration initiatives that give improved public access to the quayside and modern office and workshop accommodation.

This is complemented by cultural and arts features as part of our vision is to deliver economic strength and diversity as well as supporting social well being and cohesion. These physical regeneration initiatives are linked together in Ridley Park, which is popular and centrally located.

The pounds 610,000 investment in phase one is the beginning of our ambitious plans which aim to restore the Park to pristine condition, subject to support from the Heritage Lottery and Parks for People funding.

Ed Rowley, head of regeneration for One NorthEast said: "The work in Ridley Park has had an immediate impact and benefit to the wider community and continues to transform the quayside area as part of an integral renaissance package."

John Litherland, executive director of the Northumberland Strategic Partnership added: "The Park has been hugely successful with all age groups; the innovative water play sprays and fountains being a major feature and was short-listed for the recent RICS Regional Regeneration Awards."

The Maritime Festival saw more than 30,000 visitors attracted to Blyth and a three day schedule contained a developer's day, street entertainment, and musical concert in Ridley Park ended with a fireworks display which would rival any seen elsewhere in the region.

All of this was set against a backdrop of Tall Ships including the Mir and her sister class A vessel the Dar Mlodziezy and a full supporting cast of vessels. On the final day crowds flocked to the quayside and along the coastline as the parade of sail left Blyth to their berths in Newcastle.

The partnership working between the public, private and voluntary sectors to make this event possible epitomises the methodology and ambition within Blyth to take pride in having such a vision and showing what has been achieved to date.

To maintain progress Blyth Valley Borough Council are taking the lead in delivering another major development, to improve the environmental quality of Blyth Links. Phase one is due for completion in June 2006.

A pounds 3.8m scheme will be delivered over a number of years and includes new children's play facilities, new parking, an amphitheatre for outdoor concerts and performances, and improvements to the promenade.

Councillor Bob Watson said: "The proposals will make a significant improvement to the links environment, whilst respecting its natural and historic significance. Blyth beach is one of the town's greatest assets, and the southern gateway into the town of Blyth."

The first phase of works will create a new central plaza area, on the existing car park and the creation of a car park along part of the redundant road at the Links.

The plaza will provide a central focus for the Links, with new seating, lighting, and an amenity building which will provide new public toilets, showers and changing facilities, lifeguard facilities and a valuable community facility for those using the Links.

Once this initial phase is complete work will start on phase two, which includes the creation of an amphitheatre for outdoor concerts and a new children's play area.

The first phases of the Blyth Links regeneration proposals have been funded by BVBC, the NSP and Persimmon Homes, and further funding is being sought for completion of the later phases.

Project manager David Lodge said: "All these schemes demonstrate the improved environment that is being delivered as part of the ongoing regeneration strategy for the whole of Blyth Valley which now is being recognised as a quality place to live and work.

"They are important in creating the confidence to attract new private development to Blyth and form part of the NSP's wider strategy of regeneration in south-east Northumberland to create a corridor of opportunity for investment and new employment opportunities."

For further information, please contact David Lodge, project manager, The Pilot House, North Gate, South Harbour, Blyth, tel: (01670) 540636.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 21, 2006
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