SAINSBURY’S has officially confirmed that it will be opening a new store in Morpeth.
Last week, the Herald revealed that the supermarket giant had a conditional agreement in place with the Black Swan’s new owners, a real estate company incorporated in Belgium, to lease the building in Shields Road, Stobhill.
Now the firm has announced that all the necessary documents have been signed and a 2,500 sq ft Sainsbury’s Local will open in 2013.
County and town councillor for Stobhill, Ian Lindley, is hoping to make the best of the situation.
“Along with many residents, I have concerns about the impact this will have on shops that have been here for a long time,” he said.
“Apparently, in other places, the number of people going to local businesses dips at first when a store like this opens next to them but they later recover because more people are coming to the area, so we will have to see how it pans out in Stobhill.
“It’s going to happen now, so we have to look for positives and I’m hoping that Sainsbury’s will make an important contribution to our regeneration plans, which incorporates both physical improvements to streetscape and the green environment as well as social well-being.
“The company has indicated verbally that it is interested in being involved in the partnership and I’m trying to set up a meeting with its representatives.”
The Black Swan has been empty since last year. Even though a food store is a change of use, planning permission is not required for a pub to be converted into a shop.
Former county, borough and town councillor David Mash, who lives close by, said: “Sainsbury’s has taken a stealthy approach to this store and it’s a shame that residents didn’t get the opportunity to
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protest against something they may not want because of Government legislation.
“It should have been in communication with residents a few weeks ago to explain what it was going to do with the building. Even at this stage, it would be useful for the company to have a meeting with residents to discuss the impact of the store, including its traffic management plans.”
Sainsbury’s had previously sought permission for a major shop at Stobhill in a field off the A196 and A192, but its application was rejected by a county council planning committee in summer 2010.
A spokesman for the company said: “We believe that this is a good location for a Sainsbury’s Local as it will provide residents living nearby with additional choice and value, as well as an opportunity to top up their weekly shopping in an easy and convenient way.
“Our ‘Local’ shops also play an active role in the community through supporting local charities, community events and initiatives. We always seek to employ from the community and expect this new shop to create approximately 20 new full and part-time jobs for local people, who will benefit from a variety of training and skills programmes to continue personal development.”