Work to redevelop Bedlington town centre has taken a major step forward after a design company was appointed.
Nationally acclaimed Ryder Architects will complete the design of the new state-of-the-art facilities in the £10m development project.
The company – involved in a number of high profile projects including Ashington Leisure Centre and Bannatyne Health Spas – was appointed after a ‘competition’ involving more than 1,000 residents.
The residents judged indicative designs by two companies and highlighted major issues for the community.
As a result, two issues have been highlighted – car parking and housing.
The housing element of the design will create a number of starter homes and the development designers will look at the best ways to address car parking concerns.
The development is expected to create up to 150 local jobs while construction takes place over the next 18 months and more than 40 permanent retail jobs after opening.
In addition, the town centre development will also see up to 60 council jobs and 30 council services returned to Bedlington as part of the council’s Market Towns Initiative.
Local County Councillor Alyson Wallace said: “This is a big step forward for a £10m project which will breathe new life into the Bedlington town centre.
“It will see new shops, starter homes along with new locations for easily accessible council services.
“It will see new jobs and new retail opportunities for local people and it’ll see new opportunities for local families to get their feet on the first rung of the housing ladder.
“I’m delighted that Ryder Architects have been appointed.
“They’ve got a proven track record in excellent quality design and I’m hoping that this exciting development for Bedlington will move on apace.”
Dave Ledger, Arch chairman, said: “Ryder Architects have a proven track record in providing excellent quality designs.
“The north east is covered with examples of their buildings and we’re keen to get on with creating a new iconic Town Centre for Bedlington.
“Arch is fully committed to this project and it is one of our top priorities.
“We’re also committed to listening to local residents and I want to thank the thousands of residents who have given us their time and opinions in the design competition.
“Personally, I’m delighted to see Bedlington investment picking up a pace after years of failed initiatives and lots of talk.
“Now we’re seeing a fruitful partnership which is making use of public and private sector investment.
“Across the wider Bedlington area, investment is topping £25m which means new opportunities for residents and physical, social and economic change for Bedlington.”