An ambitious bid to overhaul the centre of Bedlington was given the go-ahead last week, alongside less popular plans for hundreds of new homes.
An outline application for a mixed-use development on a site to the north of Front Street, which includes land formerly occupied by the Tesco store, was unanimously approved at last Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.
On the same night, another outline proposal – for up to 500 new homes on land south-west of Glebe Farm, Choppington Road, was also approved – by 11 votes to one.
The town-centre scheme, led by Arch, comprises a new food store on the eastern part of the site, a family pub/restaurant on the northern part of the site, a range of retail/commercial units on the western part of the site, 12 residential units above the smaller retail/commercial units, around 250 car-parking spaces located across the site and a co-ordinated scheme of hard and soft landscaping.
Coun Russ Wallace, ward member for Bedlington Central, spoke in favour of the application, saying: “It has, in truth, been a long time coming.” He added that while he didn’t want anything to slow down the progress of the scheme, he welcomed the possibility that some community facilities may be able to be included in the development.
Committee member, Coun Richard Dodd said: “That area has been in need of help. That’s what a Northumberland development company should do, it should try to make Northumberland better. All I can say is, get on with it.”
Coun Barry Flux added: “The local response seems overwhelmingly positive so I will support it.”
The housing bid was not so universally welcomed, not least due to concerns over the impact on Bedlington’s infrastructure. This view was not helped by the fact that a contribution required towards education in the area was reduced from £3.8million to £1.75million as the council’s education team had said that there was capacity in the system at primary-school level.
Coun Trevor Thorne said there were no planning reasons on which to refuse it.
However, Coun Malcolm Robinson, a Bedlington member, said: “I’m not against the houses, but I think the contract – if you like – needs to be a lot more robust.”