PROGRESS SO FAR
Bedlington town centre remains a priority for both Advance Northumberland and Northumberland County Council despite an incredibly challenging retail market we continue to make good progress with Aldi, the anchor store. Legal agreements in relation to the development and highway works are being finalised and both Aldi and Advance have been working together to conclude the design and construction programme. Once completed, Aldi has advised that works are planned to start in the new year with the new store scheduled to open late 2021.
Unfortunately however, as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, the additional retail interests we had in place to trade alongside Aldi have withdrawn from the scheme and therefore plans for the remaining development are currently under review. That said, we were very pleased earlier in the year to see Bedlington town centre chosen as one of very few north east projects to be given the opportunity to submit a business case for funding from Central Governments ‘Getting Building Fund’ which was introduced in July to help facilitate ‘shovel’ ready’ local projects and will be a major boost to the development. The business case was submitted on 30 November and a decision is expected in January 2021.
An additional £2.5m in funding from Boris Johnson’s “Get Britain Building” fund for Bedlington will help get the works on the town centre re-development back up and running with a start date expected this year.
The economic impact of Covid-19 on the high street retail market will though result in some changes on the scheme but a new design will reflect the long held ambition of Bedlington residents for improved leisure facilities in the town centre including a swimming pool.
Funding previously set aside for a leisure scheme on the edge of the town will be added to the town centre budget, and alongside the additional government funding will boost the scale of leisure facilities in the town centre.
Further information on the scheme will be released in due course with the design work already underway.
Following the remedial works undertaken to the former Tesco site, there was a need to conclude negotiations with the anchor tenant, Aldi. Following this Aldi were required to submit revised plans to the Council and to discharge conditions on the original planning approval. In the meantime Aldi have been working on finalising their design and construction programme while Advance Northumberland have continued to negotiate terms to secure additional retailers for the remainder of the site, which is well underway. Some preparatory work is underway and construction is expected to commence by the summer this year, with Aldi open by March/April 2021. We are actively exploring a faster build out but this is something that is not entirely within the control of Advance Northumberland due to the involvement of other parties.
Plans for the proposed development of Bedlington Town Centre has reached a major milestone where work has now begun, following a ground breaking ceremony on the site of the former Tesco retail store.Following its launch today Advance Northumberland is leading the delivery of a retail-led development that will regenerate a high profile, derelict town centre site, improving retail opportunities and giving local people greater choice.
Northumberland County Council has set up a new company to replace Arch Corporate Holdings. The new company is called Advance Northumberland and will have a clear remit to improve prosperity, quality of life and increase business activity throughout the communities of Northumberland.
Advance Northumberland will be building on what is already a very successful County, continuing to work cohesively and collaboratively with valued stakeholders and partners, delivering positive physical and economic development. Focusing on the needs and aspirations of the county, addressing economic and housing challenges whilst capitalising on Northumberland’s significant assets and opportunities, Advance Northumberland will seek to provide positive intervention across carefully selected regeneration, business support and place-shaping projects.
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. These works consist of site preparation and getting the site ready for construction to commence next year. Retail operators are unlikely to be confirmed until 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 this exciting town centre scheme will create over 180 new jobs, along with 70 construction jobs during construction phase.
Plans for the proposed development of Bedlington Town Centre has reached another key milestone with Tolent Construction Ltd appointed as main contractor.
Arch and its successor company Advance Northumberland is leading the delivery of a retail-led development that will regenerate a high profile, derelict town centre site, improving retail opportunities and giving local people greater choice.
With reserved matters planning permission secured by Arch last month, Tolent will now commence an enabling package of works on the site starting later this month, with the aim of having them completed by the end of the year. These works consist of site preparation and getting the site ready for construction to commence next year.
Retail operators are unlikely to be confirmed until 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 this exciting town centre scheme will create over 180 new jobs, along with 70 construction jobs during construction phase.
Richard Wearmonth Chair of Arch said: “The appointment of the main contractor is a major step forward for the project and will be central to the regeneration of Bedlington Town Centre, providing much needed new retail and services for local people.
We are committed to delivering this exciting scheme proving local jobs, new opportunities and new shops and services. There’s a lot of interest from retailers in the new development and we’re confident that the new additions to our town centre will make it an even more attractive place to shop locally”.
On behalf of fellow Bedlington Independent County Councillors Malcolm Robinson and Bill Crosby, Cllr Russ Wallace commented:
“We are delighted that Tolent Construction have been confirmed as the main contractor and wish them every success. 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.”
Plans to give Bedlington the vibrant town centre that it deserves are moving to the next stage following funds being released by the board of Northumberland County Council’s regeneration company for a multi-million pound redevelopment.
The scheme when completed will include a new store for a well-known food retailer, additional retail units, car parking and a number of new apartments which aim to transform the town centre economy. It is projected that up to 200 jobs could be created by the scheme once completed.
In total the next stage of the works are expected to cost just under £6.5m with other funds previously having been agreed for land acquisition and other preparatory works. The regeneration company is already in the process of discharging planning conditions for the scheme and tenders from contractors for the construction are due back within weeks, subject to agreeing contracts construction work will start later this summer.
Speaking about the news the Chairman Cllr Richard Wearmouth said, “The new council administration said from the outset that doing right by the residents of Bedlington was a key goal for us. These proposals have the potential to be truly transformational for the town, giving a boost to the high street by pulling in additional footfall and generating new jobs for local residents. I am hugely looking forward to the start of work on the ground later in the summer.”
The three independent Bedlington county councillors, Malcolm Robinson, Bill Crosby and Russ Wallace issued a joint statement saying, “This is very welcome news for Bedlington and something which collectively we have been working towards ever since our election last year. Bedlington has been Northumberland’s forgotten town for far too long and this project represents an important part making sure our town thrives for generations to come. We are delighted at this news and confident that residents will now give the development their full support.”
Works behind the scenes continue for Bedlington Town Centre
Progress has continued to be made on the town centre scheme that is designed to regenerate Bedlington in the last few months. The Northumberland County Council’s regeneration company is going through a tendering process for contractors to build the scheme having had significant interest from potential retailers.
The tendering works are due to conclude soon with the scheme due to come to a board meeting in the near future to get final sign off.
Speaking about the scheme Cllr Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member of the Economy at NCC said, “Right from the start of the new administration we said that regenerating Bedlington Town Centre would be a significant priority and work has continued through the last few months to realise this.
We have been in regular contact with the local county councillors who have been pushing hard to make sure that we get a scheme that works well for the town.
I look forward in the very near future to giving full details of the scheme that is to be put before the board including the timeline for the works to be undertaken.”
Cllr Russ Wallace: “The regeneration of our town centre is absolutely crucial to the future of Bedlington. I am therefore absolutely delighted that the development is moving rapidly into the construction phase”.
Significantly boost the local economy, creating new jobs across developments, as well as employment in construction and trade services.
Enhance the retail and leisure offer available to residents of Bedlington
Reduce the need for local people to travel further afield to do their main food shopping
Give residents a greater choice in non-food shopping
Bring in a new pub/restaurant to Bedlington.