The Northumberland development projects which will continue - and what has stopped

Council-owned Advance Northumberland continues to work on town-centre projects as these ‘will be vital in propelling our economy’ when coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Projects in the likes of Ashington and Bedlington, plus the retail park in Prudhoe, are not active construction sites at present, but work is progressing off-site.

A spokeswoman for Advance, which is wholly owned by Northumberland County Council, said: “We believe the most important thing we should be doing in these extraordinary circumstances is to keep our people, supply chain, customers, stakeholders and communities safe in line with the guidance of national and local government and health authorities.

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“That said, we are operating business as usual, directing our efforts to tasks that can be done away from the office.

“Although these are extremely difficult circumstances, we still continue to work and support our town-centre investment projects.

“We are as ever in dialogue with the retailers who have expressed interest in the schemes and we will monitor the situation as it evolves. There are as always opportunities for recovery from this.

“Our partners are also doing what they can in preparation for a rapid restart, whenever this is deemed safe and feasible.”

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Coun Richard Wearmouth, the company’s chairman, added: “Advance Northumberland and Northumberland County Council continue to work on major infrastructure and regeneration projects, many of which are in the detailed design, planning or tendering phases.

“These schemes will be vital in propelling our economy out of the COVID-19 lockdown. The council and Advance are continuing to plan further schemes to ensure our economy recovers rapidly as restrictions on movement are lifted.”

Advance was also responsible for the construction of the new Morrisons supermarket in Amble, which opened as planned on Thursday, April 2.

“This is great news for Amble at a challenging time for all our local communities,” Coun Wearmouth said.

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“This new store will help make sure Amble residents can get supplies without travelling long distances to large supermarkets.

“I am grateful to Morrison’s for continuing all the work needed to open this store and offer this service at a time they are so busy making sure their existing stores are stocked across Northumberland.”

Advance Northumberland is also a house-builder, through its Ascent Homes arm, and the spokeswoman explained that a decision has been taken to close all construction sites.

“We are, however, continuing to sell homes,” she added. “It may be longer before people are able to move in, but house sales are continuing.

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“We would like to say a huge thanks to tenants and businesses and partners who have recognised the challenging time that we are in and for being hugely positive about the support and help we’ve been able to give them.”

Councils and their private partners elsewhere in the North East have been making decisions about which projects to continue during the pandemic, and which to halt.

The Government has said construction projects can go ahead, as long as workers maintain social-distancing and keep two metres apart.