REGENERATION work in a seaside town could be further boosted by a £5m investment planned by the Duke of Northumberland in a new 100-job supermarket.
The Duke’s business wing – Northumberland Estates – yesterday revealed proposals for the 30,000sqft store and 200-space car park in Amble.
It is hoped to build the supermarket on land behind Queen Street, between the town centre and the Braid area next to the River Coquet. Yesterday Northumberland Estates, which is yet to seek planning permission for the project or announce a proposed operator for the store, said the plan would bring a much-needed new facility to the town.
It is the latest in a series of planned investments by the Duke in new supermarket developments in Northumberland and North Tyneside, at Alnwick, Prudhoe and Shiremoor.
Amble’s major Co-op department store closed recently and although the town retains three smaller Co-op shops, the Duke and his business advisers feel a new supermarket is needed as part of wider regeneration efforts.
A recent study by Alnwick District Council recommended new retail facilities in Amble to underpin its future regeneration.
Northumberland Estates says the proposed store would create about 100 full and part-time jobs on a site which is earmarked for development in the district council’s local plan.
Director of Planning, Colin Barnes, said: “We see this as a store that will essentially serve the local catchment area in and around Amble, so its size will need to match its role. At the moment, Amble doesn’t have the type of supermarket which attracts people to the town to shop and, as a result, they tend to go to other centres outside of the district, such as Ashington and Morpeth. This means expenditure lost to the local economy.
“In our plans we will be looking to locate the store with strong links to the town centre, while also ensuring adequate parking to encourage people to also make use of local shops and businesses. We are currently talking to a number of operators and hope to bring forward a planning application in the near future.
“We recognise that Amble has not fared well of late, especially since the closure of the Co-op store. However, our plans show that we have confidence in the town, and in its future development.”
Last night Jeff Watson, who represents Amble West and Warkworth on the county council, said: “There is definitely a need for a supermarket in Amble and that has been talked about for a long time. Whether this is the right site for one or not, I don’t know.
“Ideally, a new supermarket would be on Queen Street, next to existing shops and businesses. Although I generally welcome this proposal, I would need to see the detailed plans.”