Construction of a new Alnwick retail park, housing an M&S Food Hall, local butcher Turnbull's and coffee chain Starbucks, is due to start in the New Year.
Groundworks on the land next to Willowburn Avenue, to the south of the town, have been under way for the past month and the project is scheduled to be completed in August 2019.
Site owner and developer Northumberland Estates has agreed terms with national retailer M&S, Turnbull's and Starbucks, and work can now commence in January, weather permitting.
Planning permission for the Willowburn Retail Park was granted by county councillors in June this year. It is located close to the A1 junction and will have a total of 37,405 sq.ft. of retail floorspace, plus onsite parking for some 200 vehicles, once full phase development is complete. Units up to 20,000 sq.ft. remain available to let, with negotiations under way with a number of retailers.
Asset manager at Northumberland Estates Anthony Cape, who is in charge of lettings at the new retail park, said: “The commitment of well-known household names at a time when much of the retail sector is in a state of flux, underlines the potential and desirability of a site which lies in a prominent retail location.
"The provision of modern, purpose-built facilities, with onsite parking, provides an ideal opportunity for local and national retailers alike.”
Colin Davidson, commercial property director at Northumberland Estates, said: “This is an exciting new development for Alnwick which will create jobs, provide improved services for the immediate locality and generally do much to enhance this part of the town.
"The new retail complements the existing offer close by, which includes Sainsbury’s, Argos, Homebase, Pets at Home and McDonalds. It marks the next step in making Willowburn a destination shopping location for both Alnwick and the surrounding area, helping to improve footfall and bringing with it knock-on benefits for the town centre itself and minimise the flow of shopping spend to other larger retail centres.”
When the tenants were announced in June, Mark Turnbull, owner of the Alnwick butcher's, has said his plan was to run the current Alnwick shop in Market Street as it is now and the new unit would be an extension of this, but with a Northumberland food hall and café, to showcase Northumberland food.
But the retail park has not been without its critics, with Alnwick Chamber of Trade (Act), Alnwick Civic Society and Local Living joining forces earlier this year to oppose the plans.