MAJOR redevelopment in a former Northumberland pit town moved a step closer last night as a retail group submitted its planning application.
Supermarket Asda plans to invest £25m in a new 53,000sq ft store in Ashington and this week submitted the proposal to Wansbeck District Council.
The supermarket’s property communications manager Tom McGarry said the store would create 250 full-time and part-time jobs and help regenerate the town centre.
He said: “This really is an exciting development for Ashington, offering employment opportunities for local people and delivering Asda’s famous low prices on a wider range of products.”
The proposals would see Asda move from its current store in Lintonville Terrace to nearby Portland Park, currently home of Ashington Football Club. The club has itself recently received planning permission to move to a new ground at Hirst Welfare.
Mr McGarry said that subject to planning permission, the store would include a larger range of the popular George clothing line, an improved music and video department, a photo centre, jewellery department and customer cafe.
The store hopes to have a decision from the council by the end of the year and, if successful, plans to open the store next summer.
The supermarket would be part of a mini retail park developers say has the potential to create up to 950 jobs.
The scheme has come in for criticism from some traders who are worried about the effect the supermarket would have on independent businesses. But Mr McGarry said: “Supermarkets work better when they are next to a vibrant town centre and a vibrant high street.
“Ashington is also in need of a larger car park. We can offer that car park for free, which will let people make linked trips to the supermarket as well as the town.
“Figures show that 27% of people go outside the town to do their shopping. By providing this new site we hope to keep these people in the town and to encourage more to visit.”
Developer Terrace Hill will submit a separate planning application for the land vacated by Asda to the east of Lintonville Terrace.
A public exhibition of the entire £60m Ashington masterplan was held earlier this year.
As well as new retail floor space it includes restaurants and cafes, an improved bus interchange and new homes.