Cloud hangs over plan for supermarket

DOUBTS have been cast over supermarket plans in Wooler after the developers dropped out.

But the community has restated the need for something to be done with the currently unused site at the entrance to the village.

In April this year, members of Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee unanimously approved a scheme for a 14,000 sq ft store.

But now the developers, Silvercoin Investments Ltd, have withdrawn their interest and allowed their option to buy the land to lapse.

However, the planning consent is tied to the land, the former Ferguson’s Transport site on the corner of South Road and The Peth, and remains in place for three years. Any further development would require an arrangement with the landowner.

Chairman of Wooler Parish Council, Alfreda Hindmarsh, said: “When the planning application went in, it caused some controversy.

“Some opposed a supermarket development and others were in support of a new store, so those in opposition will no doubt be in favour of Silvercoin Investments pulling out.

“However, this leaves a big problem in that a prime site on the main entrance into Wooler remains an eyesore.

“The parish council hopes that, in the near future, a development of some sort will take place which will enhance this site and encourage more visitors into the town.”

At the time of the application, many traders were wary of the dertrimental effect the new store could have on the High Street.

But members of the planning committee felt that the supermarket would stop people leaving Wooler to shop in Alnwick, Berwick or Kelso and that it would greatly improve the look of the site.

David Girdwood, of the Wooler and Glendale Retailers and Traders Association, was against the scheme and remains ‘unconvinced’ as to whether a supermarket was ever ‘viable or sustainable’.

“I truly believe that that site needs to be developed to remove what is not a very pleasant approach to the south end of Wooler,” he said.

“It would be to Wooler’s advantage if that site could be developed with something that would welcome people to the town. I don’t believe a supermarket was what was required.”