Gateshead Council and developers Morbaine have reached agreement with supermarket operators Morrisons for a new store in Birtley town centre.
The new 25,000 square feet sales area store is set to be built on the site of the former Somerfield store and land previously used as a Gateshead Council depot. Birtley has been without a major supermarket since Somerfield closed its doors in 2009.
Since then, Gateshead Council have been making strenuous efforts to attract another high profile retailer to the town. The Somerfield store was seen to be too small for modern supermarket use and attracted little interest from retailers. In 2010, a decision was taken to jointly market the empty store site and the adjacent Gateshead Council depot site, to potential developers as one site.
With agreement now reached with Morrisons, a final consultation with local people will take place. A formal planning application is expected early in the New Year.
Leader of Gateshead Council, Mick Henry, said: “It was recognised some time ago that, to regenerate Birtley town centre to meet the needs of current and future residents, a major new anchor retailer was required. We’ve been working hard to create the right opportunity for a major retailer to move into the town centre, so now we’ve succeeded I hope this will be the catalyst for more development in the area.”
Morbaine’s Graham Adams, said: “We are delighted to have been able to work with all sides in order to bring this very important proposal for Birtley forward. There is much to be done before a planning application can be submitted and we look forward to discussing our plans with local people in the coming months.”
Speaking on behalf of Morrisons, development executive Andrew Cooper said: “We are delighted to have signed up on this opportunity for Birtley and Morrisons. We are committed to bringing local people all the benefits that make us different from the rest. Our unique offer of high quality, fresh food at great prices, much of which is made in store, is what makes us stand out from our competitors.”
He continued: “The new Morrisons store will create up to 250 new local jobs with excellent training and development opportunities targeted squarely at local people. Employing a local workforce has been an intrinsic part of our success story for many years. We are looking forward to helping to regenerate this site and our professional team is already working with Gateshead Council and Morbaine to deliver a new store that compliments the whole area.”