More details of Morpeth retail plans

An impression of how the proposed new shops at the former Morpeth Morrisons' store would look.
An impression of how the proposed new shops at the former Morpeth Morrisons' store would look.

Three new retail outlets are set to be created in Morpeth’s former Morrisons store.

Dransfield Properties, which built and runs Sanderson Arcade, has struck a deal to buy the vacant premises in Stanley Terrace.

The units would be created on the footprint of the existing store, with one single storey, another one-and-a-half storeys, and the third two storeys high, with glazing installed to open views to Dark Lane.

Discussions are taking place with potential retailers, and tenants could be announced in the next four weeks.

In addition to the main scheme, the Express Taxis office in Morpeth Bus Station would move across the road, opposite the taxi rank, and the Corbridge Larder would be extended.

A new glazed walkway would run through the car park, where trolley bays would be removed to create more parking spaces, and disabled and family bays would be re-positioned.

The other option to this is to have that site not occupied.

Medi Parry

Up to 100 jobs would be created.

Dransfield Properties Managing Director Mark Dransfield said: “This is an important site in Morpeth and we are delighted to be coming forward with an attractive and high quality scheme, which will complete the final part of the jigsaw of the town centre development.

“We have been very encouraged by the feedback we have received so far for our proposals and look forward to submitting our planning application.”

Architect Gavin Ward, of Dixon Dawson, who designed the arcade, is drawing the plans.

A planning application is expected to be submitted to Northumberland County Council next month. If approved, work could start in September, with the build finished by next spring and outlets ready to open in September 2016.

At a meeting of the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade on Monday, Sanderson Arcade Manager Medi Parry, representing Dransfield Properties, outlined the plans.

She said: “The new Morrisons store opened on July 22, 2013, and since then, 18 months now, the former store has been marketed heavily to other supermarkets. However, due to the change of direction of a lot of supermarkets the interest has been extremely low.

“The new development will bring three new retailers to the town, adding to the mix and vibrancy. The proposal that we have put together will complement and link into the existing town centre.”

In response to concerns about parking provision, Ms Parry said that there will be no reduction in bays and talks are taking place about other potential parking sites.

“This is something that is going to be looked at. There are a couple of sites that we have started talking about,” she said.

Businessman Les Sage also voiced fears that the development could pave the way for an out-of-town supermarket.

“I thought that when Morrisons got planning permission the old store had to stay a food store because Morpeth was slightly under the footage required for food,” he said.

“I’m all in favour of three shops coming in, but would it open the door for one of the supermarkets to apply for a site in Coopies Lane? With the amount of homes that are going to be built, that food footage shortfall will be even greater.”

Ms Parry said: “Supermarket development has slowed down significantly. They are not building any stores and that will be the case for the next few years. The other option to this is to have that site not occupied.”