Work on the multimillion-pound redevelopment of Bedlington town centre, which is estimated will create more than 180 new jobs, has officially started.
A ground-breaking ceremony has taken place at the former Tesco store and it comes as the official transition from Arch to Advance Northumberland was approved at today’s full council meeting.
Advance will lead the delivery of the retail-led development that aims to regenerate a high-profile, derelict town-centre site, improve retail opportunities and give local people greater choice.
Tolent, the appointed contractor on the Bedlington scheme, will now commence an enabling package of works with the aim of having them completed by the end of the year. This consist of site preparation, ready for construction to commence next year.
Retail operators are likely to be confirmed later in the year, but the scheme is likely to include a new supermarket and a number of high-street retail brands.
It is estimated the redevelopment will create over 180 new jobs, along with 70 construction jobs during the building phase.
Coun Russ Wallace, also speaking on behalf of his fellow Bedlington Independent councillors, Malcolm Robinson and Bill Crosby, said: “We are delighted that work has now started on site in Bedlington. The Market Place is the centre of our town and its development is crucial to the future of Bedlington.
“After a period of neglect and continuing uncertainty, the start of the building phase will begin the transformation of the eyesore that is currently our town centre into what we are confident will be a thriving and successful retail development.
“It is what the people of Bedlington have been waiting for and richly deserve.”
Coun Richard Wearmouth, the chairman of Advance Northumberland, added: “This is a major milestone for Bedlington and a big step forward for the regeneration of our county.
“We know how important this development is to the local community and Advance Northumberland is committed to ensuring it is of the highest standard and something the people of Bedlington will be proud of.
“The core of our business is making sure sure local economic growth benefits local people by supporting businesses, building new homes and creating jobs they need.
“This new start for Bedlington is also a fresh start for the new company which will deliver positive change throughout Northumberland.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service