IT’S no secret that high streets up and down the country are facing challenges thanks to tightening budgets and changing shopping habits.

So any chance of investment in our towns, which will regenerate an area while complementing the existing offer to increase footfall, must be welcomed with open arms in these challenging economic times.

Planning applications for out-of-town developments currently centre around three Tynedale towns – with the long-awaited application for Low Prudhoe finally given the green light this week.

Naturally, the prospect of national discount chains moving in to the town has caused some concern among independent traders on the town’s Front Street.

However, those long-established enterprises must surely stand to benefit from the opportunity to retain customers within the town who would otherwise have travelled to Hexham, Newcastle or the Metrocentre.

And the overriding mood in the town this week is one of celebration.

Meanwhile, in Haltwhistle, plans to rejuvenate land just off the A69 at the Hadrian Enterprise Park with new homes, a hotel, petrol station and two drive-through restaurants were submitted to Northumberland County Council in July.

And work to clear the former Bunker site in Hexham to pave way for a retail development started in the spring.

A planning application has been submitted by Newcastle-based Union Property Services to transform the derelict land on Alemouth Road into a new hotel, supermarket and two food units. Contractors have been seen on site clearing trees from the land ahead of the determination of the application.

We call on local leaders and planners to work closely with members of all three communities to ensure that, through these opportunities, all three towns can prosper.