Iceland is committed to town centre store

The Iceland store in Berwick.The Iceland store in Berwick.
The Iceland store in Berwick.
Food retailer Iceland has said it will keep its store in Berwick town centre, even if it opens a new outlet on a proposed retail park.

Food Warehouse, owned by Iceland, is one of five retail units proposed on a site at Loaning Meadows, next to the Morrisons store.

Fears have been raised that the development would lead to the closure of the Iceland store on Marygate.

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Iceland Foods has now outlined its position in a letter of support for the planning application by Berwick Corporation (Freemen) Trustees and TCD Estates.

Matthew Vercell, acquistitions surveyor at Iceland Foods, stated: ‘Our store in Berwick town centre is held on a lease which runs for some years and without any break options.

‘The proposed Food Warehouse operation at Loaning Meadows would represent a different trading format to that of our town centre store and, as such, the Food Warehouse at the proposed retail park is designed to complement and not compete with our town centre store.

‘The granting of planning permission for this scheme will allow Iceland to make a significant capital investment, creating in the region of 20-25 new jobs.’

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Meanwhile, a petition calling for the proposed retail park to be given the go ahead has attracted more than 200 signatures.

The petition, which has been created by local resident Zillah Westover, has 229 signatures so far.

Five retail units are proposed with Aldi, Home Bargains and the Food Warehouse having signed pre-let agreements.

A Costa Coffee and KFC restaurant/drive thru are also proposed near the entrance.

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Earlier this month, an overwhelming majority of residents who packed into a Berwick Town Council meeting were against the proposal.

Around 80 objections have also been lodged with Northumberland County Council, many expressing fears that it would have a detrimental impact on the town centre.

However, that has prompted lots of discussion on our Facebook page with a wide range of views being made, including objectors being accused of Nimbyism and stifling potential investment in the town.

Coun Brian Parkin, speaking at the town council meeting, said there were strong opinions on both sides of the debate.

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“I have been contacted by more people in support than against, mainly because of the jobs that it will deliver,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t want to see investment being turned away because this town has struggled for a long time.”

To sign the petition visit“I understand the argumentsabout the town centre but I think its problems run far deeper than an out-of-town development.

“Our town centre at the moment is not reaching its full potential. Our town centre should be an attractive place with diverse and independent shops and there should be a night-time economy. You’d be lucky if you see anybody on that high street at 10pm on a week night.

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“A new retail park should attract more people to the town from outlying towns and villages and when that happens an improved high street should encourage them into the centre.

“The town centre is small with limited space and poor parking. We should be encouraging independent shops, new leisure opportunities and entertainment for the town centre. I want the town to thrive and I don’t think by restricting opportunities for people that will happen. The rates and rents is the main issue.”

A final decision will be taken by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.