Morrisons submit new application to expand their Berwick store

MORRISONS have applied for planning permission to extend their North Road store in Berwick.

The move comes despite the company having already received outline planning permission for a much bigger extension following a retail inquiry in 2007.

That extension would have increased the store’s floorspace by 2506 sq m, however the new application would only increase it by 895 sq m. Of that, the increase in actual sales space would be 670 sq m.

In their application to Northumberland County Council, Morrisons state that if the smaller extension is approved, an extra 14 jobs would be created, although only one full-time post.

A planning and retail assessment submitted along with the application states: “As with many Safeway stores which were converted to Morrisons, the store is smaller than a typical purpose built Morrisons outlet and a number of compromises have been made to accommodate as much of the Morrisons trading format as possible.

“However, the current arrangement at Berwick is still very much a compromise and the store needs to be larger to provide the qualitative improvements and choice to customer service that would flow from a typically larger Morrisons store.”

In addition to the extra sales space, the extension would allow for an extended cafe area, enlarged warehouse space, and new customer toilets at the front of the store.

The retail assessment added: “The Berwick store experiences in-store congestion at peak shopping times and the current sales space is insufficient for Morrisons to sell a full range of goods that can be found in larger Morrisons stores and the new Tesco store at Ord Drive. There is also insufficient warehouse space and the cafe has capacity problems.”

Morrisons estimate that the expanded store could help to bring in a £3.42m increase in turnover, the majority of which, £2.4m, would come from current Tesco customers.

The retail assessment states: “Large supermarkets tend to compete principally with other large supermarkets, so the bulk of the trade diversion will come from the out of centre Tesco store and to a lesser extent the out of centre Asda store.”

Architects who have prepared the plans for Morrisons state in the application: “The sales floor and cafe extensions will allow Morrisons to re-space the sales floor racking, provide wider aisle widths and the introduction of a cross aisle will provide better customer circulation and shopping experience.”

The proposed extension of the popular cafe would create 164 seats, up from 136, as well as provide a new kitchen area.

Morrisons’ application for a 50 per cent extension of their Berwick store was approved by Berwick Borough Council in August 2005, however the decision, along with ones on proposed Asda and Tesco stores and an retail park, was ‘called in’ by the secretary of state.

A public inquiry was held during 2006 and 2007 before a decision notice was issued in December 2008 which gave the go-ahead to the Morrisons extension and the creation of a Tesco store, in addition to approval for a retail development on land adjacent to Morrisons, along the A1.

In documentation submitted with the application, it states: “There has been no community consultation exercises carried out prior to submitting this application, however, should any issues be raised once the application has been subject to public consultation, then these will be carefully considered.”

The proposed extension would lead to the loss of 16 car parking spaces, with 325 remaining.

Morrisons acquired the North Road store in March 2004 as a result of its merger with Safeway.