BUSINESS is booming and the town centre is seeing a 'renaissance', after millions in investment revitalised the high street.

Businesses have seen an uptake in trade following the completion of the Hexham High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) project, which saw more than £3.5m invested to revitalise Hexham's town centre by resurfacing roads, installing wider pavement slabs to allow outdoor seating and providing on-street parking.

Hexham Community Partnership's new manager, Deborah Anderson, said: "Hexham town centre certainly seems to be undergoing a renaissance and there's more to come with independents Lolla Mac jewellery and Grace & Purpose homeware opening imminently. The Smashing Burger restaurant is also opening soon on Priestpopple. 

"The Range has just started advertising for staff in Hexham and it seems that they are going into the unit recently vacated by M&S, which is more good news."

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The month-long UEFA Euro tournament will begin in Germany on Friday, June 14 until July 14.

Customers will be able to sit in the sunshine, drinking and dining outside as the football boosts the atmosphere.

Mayor Derek Kennedy said: “The widening of the footpaths on Priestpopple has enabled extra seating outside at Vercelli and the Coach and Horses. The last few weekends have seen many people frequent our hostelries. Long may this encourage customers to visit our town and spend money in our Hexham economy."

Hayley Stokoe from Beautiful Betty, Hexham's ethical beauty store and salon, said: "Our business has grown exponentially since our expansion almost five years ago. We’re lucky to have a business which works with the seasons, but as we approach summer, we have seen a rapid increase in demand for our treatment services and retail products.

"I would agree that the end of the works in May was timed perfectly for summer trade and footfall has increased as a result. Locals have commented on the overall feel of the town being better and visitors new and old have loved the selection of shops and services, especially the Al fresco dining and drinking which we can see has had a really positive effect."

Fiona Beck, the business owner of the Coach and Horses and The County Hotel, said: "We've benefitted from the refurbishment of the town centre, by the fact that the pavements have been extended outside the front of the Coach and Horses, which has enabled us to put tables and chairs outside. This has had an enormous positive impact on us in terms of visibility and people being able to see we're here and open. People also love the fact they can sit outside and watch the world go by. It's very positive and we're very happy to have this new facility.

"We're very pleased to report that the [Coach and Horses] rooms are mostly full all the time, even during the week. There are lots of visitors, both on foot and cycling, visiting Hexham and very much enjoying what we've got to offer." 

Marianne O’Sullivan, policy manager at the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s excellent to hear that business is thriving in Hexham. High streets are essential in creating a sense of place and community, and they contribute significantly to the region’s economy.

“As we approach the busy summer months, we hope many visitors to Hexham will appreciate the unique charm of local, independent shops in the idyllic market town.

“It’s vital that the government provides support for businesses on high streets, which continue to face challenges such as economic pressures and the rise of online shopping.”

Town and county councillor for Hexham East, Suzanne Fairless-Aitken, said new businesses opening up in Hexham is a good sign, but it is too early to say whether the road work improvements have boosted trade.

"It's a bit early yet to say, but [Hexham] certainly looks the business! Kerb-appeal is really important to people and attracting new venture. Hexham seems to have been busy the last few weekends since reopening the roads, it's just a shame the sun hasn't shone yet. But soon, and with the new planters being done in the next two weeks, we are cafe-culture ready!"