The company that owns what used to be the Benfield Motors site in Morpeth has announced that its development project has moved a step closer.
The former car showroom and garage workshop premises at Castle Square and Hillgate have been derelict for a number of years.
Roseville Asset Management Limited is planning to construct a new luxury development of more than 40 apartments for people aged 55 and over, which would include underground car parking, and directors Stephen Foster and David Nicholson have appeared at Morpeth Forum events at the Town Hall earlier this year and last year to showcase the proposals to residents and invite comments.
Now they have revealed that the company has acquired 7 and 7A Hillgate, two semi-detached homes that adjoin their existing site, following a few years of discussions with the owners of the properties.
Mr Nicholson said that together with the earlier purchase of the former ladies hairdressers at 6 Castle Square, this makes “the future development of this site a much more viable proposition”.
He added: “We have been in dialogue with Northumberland County Council over the proposals for some time now and following this acquisition, we will shortly be submitting detailed plans for discussions.
“It’s a great location as the residents would not have to cross a road to get into the town centre.
“We believe housing for the over 55s is a growing market and these apartments would be ideal for those who want to downsize and enjoy their retirement and don’t want to keep maintaining a larger house and gardens – I’m in that situation myself.
“We recognise that the site is an eyesore, but we can’t demolish it completely until we receive planning permission as the site is in a conservation area.
“We’ve appointed P+HS Architects for the project and one of its directors, Derek Shepherd, is from Morpeth.”
He is also a director of Zonic Investments Limited, which is the developer for a new fine dining restaurant in the converted former RAFA Club building on Dacre Street, known as Elm House.
Construction works are set to be completed at the end of May or beginning of June, with the restaurant opening in June or July.
While there is a temporary loss of parking at the Back Riggs car park for the works to be carried out, the former Benfield site is available for use as a temporary car park.
Once the Back Riggs car park spaces are returned to the council, Roseville will remove the old fuel tanks and contaminated soil at the Castle Square site.