Image demonstrating Hexham town centre improvement scheme gets underway 

Hexham town centre improvement scheme gets underway 

Work has started on a major public realm improvement scheme to revitalise Hexham’s historic town centre. 
The work is being managed by the county council, and is focussing on the key corridor of Priestpopple, Cattle Market and Battle Hill.  
The improvement work is part of over £2.4m investment which has boosted the town centre through the Hexham High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) delivered by Northumberland County Council in partnership with Historic England.  

The HSHAZ aims to make the town a more attractive, engaging and vibrant place for people to live, work and visit, while also enhancing the Conservation Area status of the town centre.    

The work started on 3 July and will be completed in phases, starting on the south side of Priestpopple with completion expected in Spring 2024. There will be a pause in construction during the Christmas trading period. 
The first two weeks of work involved site preparations and establishing the traffic management arrangements, including the introduction of a one-way system. This is the most effective and efficient way to complete the project, with minimal disruption to road users and business and the traffic flows will be monitored regularly. 
The street furniture in the first section has been removed. The site team have also constructed a temporary base for onsite mortar production, which is the ‘plinth’ visible where the on-street parking is normally situated.  
The taxi rank has been temporarily relocated in front of the old bus station, whilst works are underway, and it is envisaged that it can be moved back in August. 
Significant excavation work has started on Priestpopple to enable the installation of a crate system to support the first of the new street trees which will be planted in spring next year.  The trees are being installed using a below ground soil cell system, made of recycled plastic, which provides trees within urban environments suitable conditions to support healthy growth, without disturbing any structures above.  
This requires very deep tree pits to be dug and these are very visible next to the telephone box and the taxi rank at the moment but once the crates have been installed, the areas excavated will be covered and no longer visible. Greening the street is important to the council and has proved a popular feature of the plans with the local community. 
The two mature trees on Priestpopple will also be pruned prior to new stone walls being built around each. 
Paving works are commencing in the next few weeks at the top end of Battle Hill.  This is due in part to a delay on receiving stock of specialist paving for an earlier section and the rescheduling will help to ensure that the overall scheme is kept on track. 
The wider scheme includes upgrading paving materialsto complement the historic surroundings as well as widening a section of pavement on the north side of Priestpopple.  
Pedestrian safety is being enhanced, and new planters and trees are to be introduced to green the area. On-street parking will be reconfigured to include an accessible parking bay, an electric vehicle charging point and wider bays.  
Once finished, the street will operate as it currently does and there will be no change to road layout, pedestrian crossing points, the taxi rank or the junction at Eastgate. 
Local residents and businesses were consulted widely when the scheme was being drawn up and their suggestions incorporated into the scheme wherever possible. 
Northumberland County Councillor Wojciech Ploszaj, cabinet member for Supporting Business and Opportunities said:  
The public realm work is an important investment by the council to help revitalise and refresh Hexham’s historic town centre. We are working hard to keep disruption to a minimum and are constantly monitoring the impact. We thank residents and businesses for their patience and understanding whilst this important work is carried out to improve their town.” 
Jules Brown from Historic England said:  
“Improving pedestrian access and adding trees can be hugely beneficial for a town centre, particularly when it improves historic character. Once this work is completed, it will make this part of Hexham a more distinctive place to work and visit and improve the town centre for everyone.”     
Hexham HSHAZ is part of a national £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England designed to secure lasting improvements and rejuvenate historic high streets. 
Information on the scheme and the phasing of works is available on the county council’s website: 
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