Major schemes unveiled at Morpeth event

Artist impression of how the Queen's Head will look from the outside following the new development.
Artist impression of how the Queen's Head will look from the outside following the new development.

Around 600 people came to see for themselves the latest stage of Morpeth’s Masterplan.

And the Northumberland County Council event at Morpeth Town Hall last Friday included representatives of developers and organisations to show what they are planning.

An artist's impression of Morpeth Town FC's Craik Park ground if all the new developments are built.

An artist's impression of Morpeth Town FC's Craik Park ground if all the new developments are built.

It was confirmed that work will soon be starting on the Pleased To Meet You bar and restaurant at the Queen’s Head, and details for a proposed residential development in Castle Square were unveiled.

The former Rafa Club, at Elm House, is to be converted into a new restaurant and there was an update on plans for high-quality housing at the former police station site.

In addition, there was a lot of excitement about the new proposals at Morpeth Town FC to improve facilities for players, supporters and the community in general at its Craik Park ground.

Work is already under way on phase one – increase and make better the changing rooms and areas for spectators.

A design image for the former Morpeth Police Station site.

A design image for the former Morpeth Police Station site.

Phase two involves an extension above the existing clubhouse to create a new meeting area and fund-raising venue and phase three is the creation of a new 3G playing surface, with floodlights, suitable for all ages.

The final phase would see the development of an indoor training facility that would enable senior and junior players to use Craik Park in all weathers.

Gary Munday, joint chairman of the seniors and chairman of the juniors, said: “These improvements have been drawn up to accompany the great standard of football currently being produced at the club.

“The concept of a 3G pitch and indoor training facility that the community can use as well as the club is a very exciting prospect. This will also help with the development of our younger players.”

Barry Ladhar, managing director of Crafted Projects, owner of the Queen’s Head Hotel, said: “We were absolutely delighted by the number of positive comments received at the event and the subsequent feedback on social media.

“We are looking to bring our award-winning Pleased To Meet You brand to Bridge Street, reinstating a high quality shop front and bringing back into use the Queen’s Head Hotel.

“We will be on site with the initial fit-out in the coming weeks, with the opening for the bar restaurant in autumn.

“The creation of a boutique hotel and function facility will follow soon afterwards.”

Coun David Bawn, county councillor for Morpeth North, said: “It was very pleasing to hear more details of the Queen’s Head plans and to find out that work will be starting at the site soon.”

North East based developers Roseville Asset Management Limited announced proposals to redevelop the former Benfield Motors car showroom and former garage workshop premises at Castle Square and Hillgate. The prominent town centre site has remained derelict for several years since the garage closed.

The company will shortly be submitting a full planning application to construct a new luxury development of 46 apartments and five townhouses on the site, which includes underground car parking.

Roseville’s director, Stephen Foster, said: “This will be a unique development for Morpeth that also allows for pedestrian access directly into the town centre across the footbridge and provides a great opportunity to re-develop an unsustainable industrial site within the conservation area of the town centre.”

Zonic Developments, the developer behind the conversion of the new Lollo Rosso restaurant, hopes the restaurant at Elm House will provide an alternative fine dining experience for the people of Morpeth, along the lines of Cafe 21 in Newcastle.

It is anticipated that the work on converting the property will start in the summer and be completed within six months.

David Nicholson of Zonic Investments said: “We have identified an opportunity that its not currently available to the residents of the town, while at the same time helping to breathe new life and function into an otherwise empty and redundant building.

“It is our vision that by providing quality and diverse dining experiences in Morpeth, the town will not only benefit from employment opportunities and increased footfall, but will also help to stimulate further inward investment.”

Zonic is also currently carrying out renovations to the former Appleby’s bookstore, with a view to bringing it back to use in the near future.

There was also an update in relation to the application to convert the former Morpeth Police Station site into houses and flats, which was submitted last summer.

The consortium involved stated at the event that it is currently revising the proposal following detailed comments.