A CALL has gone out to redevelop a soon-to-be-vacant town site into a community space.

Liberal Democrat candidates at the upcoming county council elections, Suzanne Fairless-Aitken and Ginnie O’Farrell, are urging Northumberland County Council not to delay in breathing new life into the Hexham Middle School site, which will become empty in September when the school moves to a co-habited site with Queen Elizabeth High School.

The political candidates do not wish for the same to happen to other prominent sites in the town, such as the old bus station, which has been allowed to grow derelict over the years. Suzanne, who wants to become the county councillor for Hexham East, said: “Our big fear is that it will sit vacant for too long and become increasingly derelict, as has happened to the old Hexham Bus Station. The longer these council-owned premises stand empty, the more they will cost council tax-payers to repurpose.”

Meanwhile, Ginnie, who is standing for the Hexham Cenral with Acomb seat, said: “We need to be creative and brave, rather than falling back on tired plans for retirement flats or indecision leading to dereliction. We know that people in the town have some great ideas for the land - as we’ve seen in online community forums and heard from people we’ve been talking to while canvassing.

“Brilliant suggestions have included: climbing wall, soft play facilities, trampoline park, a cycling hub with repair shop, or a community hub which can offer clubs, classes and activities to bolster post-pandemic mental health and well-being.”

She added: “What we’d really like to see is the development of a carefully planned and purposeful community area, benefitting from a youth centre, a play area for the families of Hexham East with easy access and well-maintained equipment. There’s room for parking and space for a new convenience store too - it’s a big site - and we’d love to maintain and expand the community garden, which could become part of the Hexham Fresh Food Bank project, growing produce for local people on low incomes."

A Northumberland County Council spokesperson said: "We are looking into the options for the site and will ensure local residents are kept informed with any future options and plans."