What’s happening to our town sites?

Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck.
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck.

Like so many others, I was devastated to learn that the £10m development to regenerate the town centre of Bedlington looks like it will be going on hold.

This news comes despite works to prepare the site having already been completed.

The reason, according to Northumberland County Council, is that the key anchor tenant for the development cannot now be confirmed.

And it seems that unless the situation is resolved quickly, the county council will have to re-start discussions with other interested parties in the site.

This news will come as a blow to the people of Bedlington.

These residents have waited patiently for progress to be made on developing what now looks like becoming another so-called ‘black hole’ in the centre of one of our Wansbeck towns.

This follows Northumberland County Council’s decision not to build a new headquarters for the authority in Ashington.

The situation is even worse than that, however.

This is because there is also a huge site currently standing vacant in Newbiggin by the Sea, where the old colliery school building was demolished several years ago.

No progress appears to have been made on the proposed housing development on that site.

Work was supposed to start in late 2017 on the redevelopment of Bedlington town centre.

It would have included a new supermarket, retail units and apartments, as well as some open spaces.

It wasn’t until last November, however, that site works finally began for the initiative.

Yet just three months later, we learn that progress on the scheme is being delayed.

We now urgently need answers to our questions about what is going to happen, and when.

This is the case not just with the Bedlington site, but for those standing vacant at Ashington and Newbiggin as well.