The former Herald office is set to be transformed into a new small retail hub.
Two local businessmen have taken over the Newgate Street premises, and they have grand plans for a make-over.
With the amount of interest we have had so far we could have rented the shops out tomorrow.Developer
The scheme would maintain a shop at the front of the street, while five smaller units would be created behind, with three apartments above.
The smaller shops would be built in traditional style and would be offered at low rent.
One of the people behind the project, who does not wish to be named, said: “We would like the smaller shops to be specialist-type of shops, with rents a fraction of the cost of the high street to attract new businesses to the town.
“With the amount of interest we have had so far we could have rented the shops out tomorrow, but we are going to be selective. We want them to complement each other, and it is no good putting a service industry in there, they have to be shops.
“I think this is what Morpeth needs. We have the big shops, now we want more character, little bits of interest that people will talk about.”
The larger unit will be a bargain store, selling a wide variety of goods from toothpaste to toys.
“I think this will be great for Newgate Street,” said the developer.
“Everybody thinks of Morpeth as being a rich town. It is a lovely place and it is good to have Sanderson Arcade and the types of shops in there, but we also need to look at the other end of the scale, people who want a bargain.
“Hopefully, this kind of shop will draw a lot of people to the street.”
Access to the smaller units would be from the side alleyway, which will have a new stone arched entrance, lighting and flowers to give a traditional feel.
In addition, the partners hope to open up views at the back of the alley, with the possibility of gated access to the Old Bakehouse Millennium Green behind.
The developer said: “The gable end has fallen and needs drastic structural work so we plan to take that down and open up a gateway to the Millennium Green that could be locked at night.
“It is up to the Green trustees if they want that, and we could put a water supply and electricity in for them. If they don’t want that, we would put a low wall in so you could see into the Green and people will know it is there. It is up to the trustees.”
Planning permission will be required for the new elements, but the larger shop could be open by May.
The development could be called Millennium Mews, with the shops at the back named Packhorse Lane as a reminder of the pub that once stood there.