SHABBY shopping areas will be spruced up as part of a wider regeneration plan.
Work is already under way on a £50,000 scheme to improve junctions and green spaces around Morpeth’s Stobhill area.
And the next phase of the project will tidy up shopping areas in First Avenue and Grange Road.
The work has been initiated by the Stobhill Community Forum as part of its ambitious Neighbourhood Regeneration Strategy that will include street works, community projects, employment schemes and improvements to local facilities.
Funding has been provided from a number of sources and support has been given by various organisations, including Northumberland County Council and Groundwork North East.
The shop project will involve improving hard-standing areas and paths, erecting signage to direct people to the services and adding colourful planters.
Ian Lindley, who helped to set up the forum, said: “This is part of the overall regeneration scheme. It will help to advertise the local shops to try to tell people that there are other shops here, apart from the new Sainsbury’s store, as much as we can.
“The work we have planned will just spruce things up a bit.”
Shopkeeper David Robertson, who runs Robertson’s Store in Grange Road, has welcomed the support as he said takings have plummeted since Sainsbury’s opened in the nearby former Black Swan pub last month.
“Any improvement has to be good, bearing in mind that Sainsbury’s has probably taken a third of my trade away already,” he said.
“Doing the area up and improving the paths will obviously improve the appearance and the signage might help. It will be a bit better if there is a sign from the main road so rather than just passing Sainsbury’s people can see there are other shops as well.”
Morpeth Town Council has backed the signage scheme in principle.
Resident Alison Byard said: “I think it will be great. Sainsbury’s looks so smart and it lifts the whole area so if they do the same thing for other shops it will make all the difference. They are only going to suffer from the competition if nothing is done. They are run by good people and they should be supported.”