New future for forgotten town

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Residents in a ‘forgotten’ town are set to be consulted on what developments they would like to see.

For a number of years, people living and working in Bedlington have hit out at the lack of regeneration in the town.

In May, an agreement was reached for Arch to purchase all of the property assets owned by Tesco in Bedlington, including the former food store.

Now Arch and Northumberland County Council look set to go out to consultation on plans later this year as they close in on a deal to buy land and buildings in the town centre.

Coun Val Tyler said: “We are at the last hurdle of buying the land with Arch, and once we do that we can start consulting with the people of Bedlington and finding out what they want to happen to this site. We are progressing with work to get ownership of this site so that we can move forward with development plans, as nothing can happen until we own it.

“It’s a huge area, and the potential is huge, but we want to make sure the development is something that Bedlington itself wants, otherwise it won’t be used and it won’t be viable.”

The site for development will include the former Co-op, Tesco, the gap site, the car park area and the old toilet block.

Coun Terry Johnstone added: “This is a massive site and there is huge scope for development.

“We will be asking the public what they want to see here, but it would be a mix of retail, leisure and new homes.”

Coun Alyson Wallace, Bedlington Central, added: “It is a large site and it’s something we can do great things with. It’s an exciting time for Bedlington.”

In May, hundreds of Bedlington residents held a protest in the town’s market place, organised by Make A Noise For Bedlington.

Chairman of the group, Wendy Reed, said: “Like the councillors, the people of Bedlington are eager to see this site at the heart of our town developed as soon as possible.””

The sale is expected to be completed shortly, and it is hoped that public consultation will begin in the autumn.