THE bulldozers moved in at a former art gallery and council offices yesterday to pave the way for a new £2.7m development.
Demolition work got underway yesterday at the old Billingham Art Gallery and Council Offices so that building can start on a new customer service centre.
The project is part of a regeneration of Billingham town centre which will also see £25m of investment.
Councillor Mike Smith, Stockton Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and transport, signalled the start of the demolition work by sounding a hooter.
He said the development will form a key part of the regeneration of Billingham town centre
Coun Smith said: “This is another piece of the jigsaw of the £25m transformation of Billingham town centre, and it’s exciting to see another key element of our plans getting under way.
“Customer service centres have been hugely successful and popular elsewhere in the borough and this one will attract people into Billingham town centre, generating additional footfall for local businesses.
“We want to give the people of Billingham the town centre they expect and deserve, and the changes are happening at quite a pace now.”
The new service centre will house a public library, customer services for Stockton council and Tristar Homes.
Billingham Town Council will also be given space and the building is expected to open by the end of next year.
The regeneration of Billingham town centre has been carried out in three stages over the last few years.
Meanwhile, a further £2.3m of works are progressing paid for by town centre owners Stockland, who are working in partnership with Stockton council.
They include high quality paving, seating, lighting and a new canopy for the bandstand.
Billingham Health Centre in Queensway has also recently been refurbished and John Whitehead Park is set to benefit from a £260,000 scheme to create a new skate park and BMX area, plus improved tennis courts and a multi-use games area.
Billingham Forum was also given a major refurbishment in an £18.5m redevelopment which was completed in 2011.
Members of the public and media, including TYV cameras, gathered to watch the start of the demolition work yesterday.
It is being carried out by contractor, MGL Demolition, and is due to be finished by the end of July.