MULTI-million-pound plans to build a new supermarket in Blyth are set to safeguard 160 existing jobs and create up to 140 more.
The proposals now given the thumbs-up by the government will see the town’s existing Morrisons bulldozed to make way for a new store half as big again.
The proposed redevelopment, first announced in early 2008, was given the go-ahead by Northumberland County Council planners in November, but it had been on hold since then awaiting the approval of Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles for the compulsory purchase order needed.
The planned store will offer 6,000sq m of floorspace, 2,000sq m more than the current 1970s-built Regent Street branch.
It will incorporate a range of sustainable design features including a wind turbine.
Coun Tom Brechany, executive member for planning, housing and regeneration at the county council, said: “The confirmation from the secretary of state is a massive boost for Blyth town centre.
“The new supermarket will go far in the regeneration of the town centre and hopefully make Blyth a more attractive place for shoppers and potential future investors.
“I see this as a major positive for the town centre and the people of Blyth.”
Over the last two years, the council has worked alongside Morrisons in staging public consultation events for residents and businesses to keep them informed of the progress being made on the proposals.
Commercial property consultant Sanderson Weatherall and law firm Eversheds have been acting on behalf of the council to acquire the land and buildings needed for the development.
Richard Farr, partner for regeneration at Sanderson Weatherall, said: “Planning permission was gained in November 2010 to cover the demolition of the existing store and the creation of the new unit.
“The compulsory purchase order will bring into public ownership the land that is required to complete the scheme.”
The Morrisons chain’s head of acquisition for the north, Justin Fletcher, said: “We are thrilled to receive the go-ahead for this scheme.
“The investment in the new food store will improve the range and facilities we are able to offer our customers and draw back those who have had to travel to out-of-town locations for this type of service.”
Construction is expected to start in January next year.
More than a dozen small businesses will be forced to move out of the town centre by the compulsory purchase order announced this week, including the Riverside Auto and MoT Centre and Phoenix Taxis.