Townsfolk can have their say

PEOPLE in a coastal town where shopping and visitor facilities were criticised in a damning report are being urged to have their say on plans for a £5m superstore development.

PEOPLE in a coastal town where shopping and visitor facilities were criticised in a damning report are being urged to have their say on plans for a £5m superstore development.

Earlier this month, a retail distinctiveness study carried out by consultants concluded that Amble suffers from a lack of supermarket choice, which is forcing local people to shop elsewhere.

Miller Research also found that the town’s tired shops and neglected look give visitors a poor first impression, and said local pubs failed to cater for food-seeking families and tourists.

Now Amble residents are being invited to have their say on a plan by the Duke of Northumberland to build a 100-job, 30,000sq ft superstore in the town. The scheme – by the Duke’s business arm Northumberland Estates – also includes a 200-space car park and some housing development on land between the town centre and the Braid. Locals are being urged to attend a two-day public exhibition of the proposals next week in St Mark’s United Reformed Church Hall in Wellwood Street. Northumberland Estates staff will be present to take on board comments and suggestions about the £5m project from residents before submitting an application for outline planning permission to Alnwick District Council.

Yesterday Colin Barnes, Northumberland Estates director of planning, said: “We hope as many people as possible will come along and take a look at what we are proposing.

“We are very excited about this development, which we hope will contribute to the regeneration process for Amble. We would very much value the thoughts and comments of local residents.

“The responses to the proposal received so far have been very positive and the exhibition will help to inform people in greater detail of what is planned.” Northumberland Estates has yet to confirm an operator for the superstore, but is currently in discussions with several national chains, all of which are said to have shown an interest in coming to Amble. Next week’s exhibition will be held on Wednesday from 10am to 7pm and on Thursday from 3pm to 7pm. It will include facts and figures on the scheme and architects’ drawings.

Miller Research spent a year studying Amble and three other market towns after being commissioned by regional development agency One NorthEast to develop action plans.

The Amble action plan includes developing the Town Square area to create a food and drink quarter, investing in local pubs, looking into relocating the Sunday market from the harbour to Queen Street and examining the potential for a farmers’ market-style retail centre in the former Co-op department store.

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