TWO final designs for the regeneration of Hexham Market Place will go out to public consultation in the New Year.

After two years of discussion, Northumberland County Council and Hexham Town Council will ask members of the public to decide on their preferred choice for the area. Public consultation on the plans open on January 7 and will run for a period of six weeks.

Earlier this year, there were four options put forward with one being the pedestrianisation of the area and the other three enhancing parking options in the town centre.

After collecting opinions from the public, the county council has come back with two final designs; one pedestrianised zone and the other an ‘enhanced streets’ option which combines elements of the three previous options.

The pedestrianisation plan would prevent vehicular access between the hours of 10am and 4pm to create a pedestrian friendly space. The second option will keep all streets open to vehicles, but access would be more restricted than it is currently.

Trevor Cessford, Northumberland county councillor for Hexham Central with Acomb, said: “From the onset, a decision was made to make this an open, honest and transparent process. The future of the Market Place was to be decided by local residents and businesses. To that end, no organisation or individual has had priority access to any information and it was shared with everyone at the same time.

“The process has now reached the point where the two designs are going back out for the final time to the local residents and businesses for them to vote on which design there would like Hexham Town Council and the county council to take to the next step of choosing the materials to be used, pricing the work and securing the funds to enable work to start.

“There will be those who have opposite views on which design they want. However, I urge everyone who is eligible to cast their vote.”

Mayor of Hexham, Coun. Tom Gillanders, said: “The two proposals offer a solution to an issue which has divided opinion in the town for a long time.

“If Hexham is to be a dynamic, forward looking town, using its heritage assets to the full, we need an improved living and working public realm.

“Both of these options aim to provide this, and the town council hopes that everyone in the town will give their views before we work with the county council to implement one of them.”