Bedlington Town Centre - Councillors Briefing, August 2017
This report provides an update on progress on the Bedlington Town Centre, former Tesco Site and the Old School housing development.
Bedlington Town Centre
We are making good progress with development proposals for Bedlington Town Centre, a retail led scheme is emerging that will be capable of transforming the town centre, creating exciting new places to visit, dwell and shop.
Once completed, this flagship Arch development will form a pivotal focal point for the town whilst also delivering a truly mixed-use scheme with many positive economic, social and physical benefits.
Discussions with prospective tenants, in particular the food anchor, are reaching fruition and a number of corporate retailers have expressed an interest in being part of the scheme. Securing these anchor tenants forms the next stage of development now that outline planning consent is secured.
With commercial viability a core objective of the development, our immediate efforts have been concentrated on five key activities:
1. Demolition, site clearance, site investigations and remediation;
2. Design of a financially viable masterplan to demonstrate the capability of the site to the market and provide a balanced mixed-use development that will complement and add value to the existing Bedlington offer;
3. Obtain outline planning permission for the development;
4. Attract new investors into Bedlington to increase retail diversity and create the economic catalyst for commercial development; and
5. Introduce a new housing offer with a diversity of tenures to satisfy market demand for town centre living.
The pre-planning submission public consultation was held 6th December 2016 at the Salvation Army Hall. County and Town Cllrs and members of the Bedlington Delivery Group were invited to a preview. Over 150 people attended on the day with 140 providing feedback, of which 98% were generally in support of the development proposals, agreed that there is a need for more shopping and leisure facilities in Bedlington and agreed that the scheme would enhance Bedlington Town Centre.
The outline planning application was submitted 9th February 2017 and approved at Strategic Planning Committee in June 2017.
The design team meet weekly and are now working with Arch Developments in preparing the ‘reserved matters’ application and discharge of conditions. However, some of the detail is subject to retailers / other users’ requirements, which are yet to be defined.
The scheme is attracting good levels of interest in the retail market and we are confident of underpinning the development with two “anchor” stores. The primary aim is to secure a c.2,000m2 discount food supermarket and a c.1,500m2 non-food discount store, we are in direct discussions with two major retailers to fulfil these roles. Our existing tenant Greggs have expressed interest in a larger unit within the new development.
General feedback is looking positive and once the anchors are secured a number of complementary retailers are also keen to take units within the scheme.
Once an appropriate level of income/capital is accomplished from sales and lettings, a request for funding to commence the development will be brought forward for Arch Board approval, current target is an Autumn Board.
Due to the estimated build cost of the development, the construction will be subject to OJEU procurement (restricted tender). This will require a PQQ stage to shortlist interest from the market, followed by an ITT to the shortlisted contractors. We are currently targeting to commence with the PQQ this autumn with the aim of completing the procurement to enable construction to commence, subject to viability and Board approval, early 2018.
A naming competition (My Town My Vote) for the development was launched in February, led by Leading Link, nearly 2,900 votes were cast. The winning name was Pipers Place (947 votes) followed by The Forge (811 votes), Market Square (562 votes) and The Cross (481 votes).
Ballot boxes toured local schools in Bedlingtonshire and were placed in local businesses, churches and care homes. The campaign involved the design of a local mascot ‘Bedlington Ben’ and included stickers and posters, all designed by young people involved through Leading Link youth charity.
The name is yet to be adopted. Consideration needs to be given to its suitability for a retail led development and also the Council’s Street Naming and Numbering process.
Old School, Bedlington
Arch acquired the former Old School site situated on the corner of Front Street and Church Lane from a local developer in February of 2016. The site came with the benefit of a planning consent for 19 apartments – granted in 2009 through appeal.
The intention is to develop PRS/affordable apartments on the site, targeted at the over 55 market.
Arch appointed architects ID Partnership to revise the development, aligning to the PRS market, but maintaining high quality architecture. The revised development provides 18 two bed apartments, ranging from 59-65m2.
A section 73 application for the proposed variations was submitted in September 2016 and the variations were approved by Planning Committee in January 2017.
Arch Group Investment Committee approval was granted February 2017 for the development and appointment of the contractor NB Clark (Morpeth), following competitive tender.
NB Clark took site possession in March 2017. Practical completion is currently programmed for April 2018. At present, NB Clark are currently on programme and are progressing well with ground to first floor brickwork. All underpinning works to the south and west boundary walls are complete.
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