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Plans Submitted For Major Development In Birtley

Date: 06/09/2012

Above: Artist's impression of the new store on the former Somerfield site. 
A planning application has been submitted for a new multi-million pound supermarket development in the centre of Birtley, Gateshead

Developer Morbaine have submitted an application for a new 25,000 square feet Morrisons store to be built on the site of the former Somerfield store and land previously used as a Gateshead Council depot.

In addition to the supermarket, four two-storey retail units are also proposed for local or national retailers.

The development is expected to provide a major boost to the whole of Birtley town centre and bring up to 250 new jobs to the town centre.

Birtley has been without a major supermarket since Somerfield closed its doors in 2009.

The existing Somerfield store, on Durham Road in the centre of Birtley, was considered 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 depot site to potential developers as one site. Morbaine were chosen as the preferred developer in 2011. 

A key requirement of the design process has been to ensure that the new store enhances and complements the existing retail strength of the town centre. A public consultation was held at the end of last year where over 270 local businesses and residents attended and offered no objections to the draft plans.

If the planning application is approved, construction work could start as early as  June next year.

Speaking on behalf of Morrisons, development executive Andrew Cooper said: “We are delighted to be working alongside the Council and Morbaine to regenerate Birtley town centre. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring our fresh food offer, matched with great value and top quality service, to people in Birtley and surrounding areas.”

The project is being promoted by developers Morbaine. Morbaine’s Graham Adams, said: “The positive response from local people to the development has been tremendous. 

“This will be a catalyst for Birtley town centre, encouraging people not only to do their food shopping locally but also to stay in the town for their other needs. 

“This is an opportunity for the existing retailers to step change their businesses and benefit from the increased number of potential customers on Durham Road”.

Councillor Malcolm Graham, Gateshead’s Cabinet member for Economic Development, welcomed the application.

“The council has worked hard over a number of years to bring about the redevelopment of this former supermarket, so we hope that this application means that our work has finally borne fruit.

“If their planning application is successful, the developers will help to bring both new jobs and renewed vitality to Birtley town centre – two things which I know will be greatly welcomed by local people.”




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