Decision time for Berwick’s new retail park

The site of the proposed retail park in Berwick
The site of the proposed retail park in Berwick

Plans to build a new retail park on the northern outskirts of Berwick are being recommended for approval.

The contentious scheme, which has attracted 84 letters of objection, will go before Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee on Tuesday.

Berwick Corporation (Freemen) Trustees are seeking planning permission for five retail units and two food and drink units at Loaning Meadows, on a greenfield site south-west of the Morrisons store.

Aldi, Home Bargains and The Food Warehouse, part of the Iceland Group, have signed pre-let agreements, with Costa Coffee and KFC also lined up.

It is envisaged the Aldi unit would replace the current store on North Road, while Food Warehouse would retain its existing Iceland store in the town centre.

Berwick Chamber of Trade has expressed concerns that the development will impact on the town centre, while Berwick Town Council has called for highways, ecological and surface water issues to be addressed.

Other objectors claim that vacant units are available in the town centre, other suitable sites are available, there is no need for additional retail development, that it will impact on adjacent residential properties and create noise and light pollution and extra traffic,

The applicants estimate the development will result in a total increase in retail turnover of £28.65 million at the design year of 2023. They say it will help to stem the flow of significant trade to distant shopping centres.

Planning officer Ragu Sittambalam, in a report to members, stated: “The proposal has demonstrated that there are no sequentially preferable sites to accommodate the development and that the trade impact of the proposal would have an impact on the town centre, however within the framework of assessment this level is not considered be a ‘significant adverse impact’ on the vitality or viability of the town centre.

“A contribution toward the development of town centre improvements (£40,000) and operational restriction on the existing Aldi premises is considered necessary to make the development acceptable.”