Council grant for Chester-le-Street coffee shop

A COFFEE shop is serving in style following a refreshing makeover.

New signs, windows and doors have been fitted at Coffee Bank, in Chester-le-Street, following a £12,500 shot-in-the-arm.

The contribution from Durham County Council’s Targeted Business Improvements Scheme has helped to give the lower Front Street cafe a more inviting look, as well as improving access.

The scheme offers small cash awards which improve the physical appearance of non-residential properties in town centres.

It has delivered an express return for Coffee Bank with owner Kirstie Kimmins reporting a major boost in business, allowing her to take on an extra member of staff.

She said: “The new frontage has definitely made a real difference.

“Our takings have gone up significantly and we’ve had to increase staff numbers to cope with the extra customers.

“We’ve always been busy but now I’m starting to consider how we can have more tables.

“The whole process went very smoothly and I think everyone should be snapping up the opportunity.”

As well as improving the general appearance of the premises, which overlooks Picktree Lane and the Market Place, the changes have helped to overcome confusion over access., with much easier entry from the main shopping area.

The Targeted Business Improvements Scheme is available in several towns across the county, including Consett, Crook, Seaham, Spennymoor, and Stanley.

Julie Anson, the county council’s community economic development team leader, said: “The scheme was set up to enhance the environmental quality of town centres by offering traders help in improving the design and appearance of business premises, which should, in turn, further develop the area’s commercial vitality and viability.

“The overall aim is to make the centres of towns such as Chester-le-Street vibrant again, restoring community spirit, raising aspirations and improving the physical appearance.”

Further information on eligibility and how to apply for help for help from the scheme are available via the council’s community economic development team, on (03000) 262006.

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