Proposal to expand food store scrapped

Plans to expand a major food store and offices in Bedlington have been scrapped.

Tesco had been looking at expanding its store in Market Place, Front Street, for a number of years in a multi-million pound development.

The supermarket chain had also proposed that the package would see the closure of what had become known locally as the ‘gap site’ at the corner of the Market Place by building new retail units beneath an enterprise centre, providing as many as 15 high quality offices in a prime location for small businesses.

However, the company announced this week that it has now withdrawn their plans due to changes in shopping.

Tesco spokesperson Mark Thomas said: “We’re grateful for the support that the community has shown for our proposals in Bedlington and we know that many people will be disappointed by our decision.

“Since we first applied for planning permission for a new store in Bedlington, the shopping habits of our customers have changed, with more people shopping online and in convenience stores.

“In light of this, we have reviewed our plans and made the difficult decision to withdraw our proposals. We will be sure to keep the community updated on the future of the site.”

But Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, who has campaigned for Tesco to either “put up or sell up” over their plans, has welcomed the news as it means progress can be made on site.

Speaking to the News Post Leader, he said: “I’m delighted that Tesco have withdrawn their plans.

“We’ve been waiting for over eight years for Tesco to develop these plans but now they have said they no longer wish to pursue their proposals, it opens opportunities for interested developers to put in place exciting opportunities for Front Street, Bedlington itself and residents.

“I think we can progress really quickly. I want to see something happening in Bedlington.

“Nearly 800 people have signed our petition showing residents have had enough of what Tesco promised.

“I want to thanks all those who backed our campaign.”

Mr Lavery said he was meeting with Tesco next month and already had a developer interested in the site while would appeal to bosses to improve the existing store and bring into line with others in the region.