Concern over key town centre sites

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery int the Market Place, Bedlington.

At the start of the new year residents, and indeed businesses, around our Wansbeck constituency need to know what is happening about a number of key sites across our district.

At three sites in particular, at Ashington, Bedlington and Newbiggin, development seems to have come to a halt, or a least stalled, without any explanation as to what might be happening.

Lintonville in Ashington town centre was earmarked as the site of a new County Hall for Northumberland. We all saw the architects’ drawings of a new building and heard about how it could have community uses, as well as serving as the headquarters of the county council.

One of the first decisions the Conservative administration made when it came into power last May was to cancel plans to move County Hall from Morpeth to Ashington. Since then we have heard very little as to what alternative use the site might be put to, and concern is growing that it is beginning to look like an eyesore in the centre of Ashington.

We also understand the Conservatives have included money in their budget to refurbish and modernise County Hall as an alterative to moving it to Ashington, and I am sure many people will be eagerly waiting to see how much that might cost.

We were also told that plans would be progressed to develop new facilities in the centre of Bedlington, and again everything seems to have gone quiet on that score, while in Newbiggin the old colliery school site has been left vacant, despite the promise that new homes would be built there.

All three are important sites that will have a bearing on the future development of our towns, and we need to have answers as to what is planned for them as a matter of urgency.

I will be pressing Northumberland County Council for some answers about these sites because it is of concern that little or no progress seems to have been made about their futures.

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