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Economy

Work starts on major retail and leisure scheme in Blyth

Plans for a £4.5m new retail and leisure development in a Northumberland seaside town have moved a step closer with the appointment of a building contractor and the start of construction work.

Newcastle-based building and civil engineering firm BRIMS Construction has been appointed to develop the 16,000 sq. ft. centre at Blyth’s South Beach in a move that will create up to 100 jobs during the initial construction phase as onsite work gets underway this week.

It’s estimated that up to 75 full and part time retail and leisure jobs could also be created when the development of the first phase is completed in September and commercial occupiers start trading.

The first phase is part of ambitious plans by developers Blagdon Estate to transform the existing derelict buildings and land on the Links Road into a new 3,750 sq. ft. Co-op convenience store with a further six smaller units ranging from 1,000 sq. ft. to 3,350 sq. ft. available to lease. Plans for the first-floor accommodation, which has views across towards South Beach, will also create more than 4,000 sq. ft. of space to accommodate a new health and fitness gym, studio or restaurant.

The start of work, which will be overseen by North East construction consultants Consult North, appointed by Blagdon Estate to manage the project, comes in the wake of substantial residential development in the South Blyth area, which has seen 600 new homes built over the past 10 years. The project is seen as an important regeneration initiative for the town and follows economic impact studies and research revealing that visitors to Northumberland spent over £1 billion when they explored the county in 2019.

Stuart Hall, director at Kingsmead Developments, development partner with Blagdon Estate, said: “This project will help to transform an important part of Blyth, creating jobs and boost the local economy in the process. The new hub will deliver a wealth of benefits for local residents and traders, as visitor numbers continue to increase, and people spend on local amenities.”

Letting agent for the development @retail has confirmed that the Co-op will be the anchor store for the site with pre-lets already agreed with a further three occupiers. Associate director Jonathan Chapman added: “We are seeing a lot of interest in the units from potential occupiers who are keen to tap into a vibrant local economy and a growing residential population. These include restaurant operators, coffee shops, children’s nurseries and health and fitness operators. We are currently focusing on securing tenants for the remaining space, which includes a 3,350 sq. ft. standalone unit and 4,350 sq. ft. of first floor space.”

Plans for the second phase of development, which includes a further two acres of adjoining land next to the South Beach car park and national cycle route, are already underway with proposals likely to be brought forward during the course of 2022. This will open up further commercial opportunities to make the most of the beachside location including further leisure use, retirement living accommodation or other compatible uses.

Ian Levy, MP for Blyth Valley, said: “I’m really pleased to see work on this important Blyth development beginning. It will bring new jobs to Blyth, new retail, hospitality and leisure facilities for people living in the town and an improved offer to people visiting our beautiful beach. That the Co-op and others have already signed up shows strong commitment to the Blyth Valley area. I am committed to doing all I can to help the local economy prosper and to seeing better facilities for residents and I welcome this development.”