Wider picture wins the day

THE potential benefit to north Northumberland was felt to outweigh the possible negative effect on local traders, as members unanimously approved the plans to build a 14,000 sq ft supermarket in Wooler.

During the course of discussions on the development of Ferguson’s Yard at Northumberland County Council’s area planning committee north, the possibility of the applicant Silvercoin Investments providing £40,000 rather than £20,000 to develop links with the High Street was raised by local ward member Coun Anthony Murray.

Speaking about the possible benefits to the Glendale area, members pointed to the example of Alnwick and the construction of its second supermarket, Sainsbury’s, which opened in March 2008.

Coun Trevor Thorne said: “When the new supermarket came to Alnwick it proved a real shot in the arm and drew people in to the town.”

Coun Gordon Castle said: “My experience in Alnwick because of the supermarket is that I can think of no shop that has closed due to the Sainsbury’s development. It has not been to the detriment of the town and I don’t think it will be to the detriment of Wooler.”

David Girdwood, who owns The Good Life Shop in the village, spoke against the application on behalf of the Wooler and Glendale Retailers and Traders Association.

Referring to a report on the retail impact of the new store, he said that the High Street could expect a loss of trade of 15 to 30 per cent.

“The loss of between 15 and 30 per cent trade on the High Street translates to a very serious number of staff redundancies,” he said.

However, Coun Murray and Edward Brown, chairman of Kirknewton Parish Council, both said that the supermarket would be a boost to the area providing jobs and stopping people using supermarkets in Alnwick, Berwick and Kelso.

Coun Murray added that the site needed regeneration, saying: “We have got this awful scene of degradation sitting there on the side of the A697.”

Coun Isabel Hunter said: “It’s something that is needed in the area but what we have to be good at is the 106 agreement and that if people come to the supermarket then they go to the High Street as well.”

Silvercoin Investments’ agent Chris White confirmed that his client would be willing to discuss the amount of money and the links to the High Street.

Members also unanimously approved the conservation area consent to pull down the existing buildings with the exception of two at the rear of the site. They also appreciated that the original stone would be used in the construction of the new store as much as possible.