`

New tenants unveiled at Alnwick retail park alongside M&S

A computer generated image of how the new M&S store in Alnwick might look.
A computer generated image of how the new M&S store in Alnwick might look.

A renowned family butchers will open a food hall and café at a recently-approved retail park on the outskirts of Alnwick, but insists it is not turning its back on the town centre.

And yesterday it was revealed that global firm Starbucks will operate a drive-thru coffee house at the new shopping site, which will also feature a Marks & Spencer, as previously reported.

As part of the development, Turnbull’s of Alnwick has announced its intention to launch a new premises at the retail park, to be built on land south of Greensfield Industrial Estate.

The highly-regarded and long-running independent company wants to operate a Northumberland food hall, showcasing and celebrating local produce. New jobs would be created as a result.

However, this would complement Turnbull’s existing town-centre butchers’ shop, which will continue to operate in its current form.

Yesterday, Mark Turnbull explained the rationale behind opening a second retail unit in Alnwick, but reiterated that the well-established family firm remains committed to the town centre.

He said: “The plan is to run our current shop 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. We are also members of the county council’s Produced in Northumberland accreditation scheme.

“Alnwick has changed a great deal and for us, the retail park is a great chance to have a place in this area of the town.

“But we are not giving up on nor turning our back on the town centre. We are still committed to the town centre.”

Turnbull’s plans have been endorsed by Alnwick Chamber of Trade vice-chairman David Taylor.

He said: “Very often, these retail parks exclude independent businesses, so it is encouraging that Turnbull’s is making this move. I am also delighted that Turnbull’s is not abandoning the town centre.”

However, Mr Taylor reiterated concerns previously raised by Alnwick traders about the retail park.

As reported by the Gazette, businesses have expressed fears about its impact on the town centre, which has a number of empty premises.

Traders have also spoken out about an independent retail assessment, commissioned by the county council and conducted by Manchester-based Nexus Planning.

The study concluded that the retail park would not lead to a ‘significant, adverse impact’ on the town centre, but traders argued that they were not consulted as part of the ‘desk-top study which used old results’.

It was also said that the proposals were not supported by the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan.

However, objections were to no avail, as the retail park was approved by the county council’s strategic planning committee on Tuesday.

As part of the agreement, a sum of money will be sought from the developer, Northumberland Estates, to improve bus services between the retail park and the town centre.

Alnwick county councillor Robbie Moore said: “There is a current leakage of trade down the A1 to Morpeth so this can only be a good thing for consumers in Alnwick and north Northumberland. Trading conditions on the high street are brutal, but this is due to a changing marketplace and going online, and this is happening all over the country.”

Colin Barnes, from the Estates, said the retail park represented a £5million investment, would create around 100 jobs and ‘is widely supported by the population of Alnwick and the surrounding area’.

M&S will open a food store selling Marks & Spencer-branded produce. Items such as flowers, stationery and cards will also be available.

It is anticipated that the company will create around 30 full-time equivalent jobs.

The retail park will have more than 220 parking spaces.

Some of the retail units are still available, so the Estates is keen to hear from any businesses – including local ones – who might be interested. Call Anthony Cape on 01665 511145.