WORK has started on a new supermarket at the heart of the regeneration of Blyth’s town centre.
Contractor McLaren Construction has begun erecting steelwork for the new Morrisons, due to be completed early next year and expected to create up to 150 jobs.
The new store, with a 28,000sq ft sales area, will be about a third larger than the existing store and will offer extra parking spaces.
The existing store will continue to trade until the new store opens, and existing staff will then be transferred to it, alongside scores of new recruits.
The current store building will then be demolished and the site cleared to make way for additional car parking.
Northumberland County Council’s executive member for planning and regeneration, Tom Brechany, of Cramlington South East, said: “The redevelopment of the Morrisons store and its surroundings represents a vital step towards delivering a town centre that better meets the needs of local residents and visitors.
“The partnership between the council, the Homes and Communities Agency and Morrisons will not only secure the continued vitality and viability of the town, but in the longer term, will hopefully trigger further development and investment in Blyth.”
Ward councillor Vince Coils added: “Now that the steelwork is going up, local people and traders are following the construction with keen interest.
“They are eager for the store to open next year. They know that it will play a key role in breathing new life into the town, attracting more visitors.”
Morrisons development executive Richard Bakes said: “Once built, the new store will offer greater choice and create additional car parking to serve both the store and the town centre.
“Our research shows that many local residents travel out of town to do their weekly shop.
“Our flagship store will bring local people back into the town centre and attract shoppers from outside the area, helping to regenerate this historic town.”