Good news for residents as Blyth shopping centre set to reopen after storm damage

Traders and shoppers have been given a major Christmas boost with news that a shopping centre is set to re-open.

By David Sedgwick
Friday, 17th December 2021, 11:00 am
Blyth business owner Nitin Gutali, Cllr Glen Sanderson, and Sarah Beattie, who manages Cafe Ginerva in the Keel Row Shopping Centre.
Blyth business owner Nitin Gutali, Cllr Glen Sanderson, and Sarah Beattie, who manages Cafe Ginerva in the Keel Row Shopping Centre.

The Keel Row Shopping Centre, in Blyth, and a number of adjacent shops have been closed since November 29 following Storm Arwen.

The decision came following inspections by structural surveyors, officials at Northumberland County Council and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service on a four-storey building adjacent to the centre which lost part of its roof and wall during the storm.

Concerns were raised that the wall may come down, and work has been taking place to demolish it.

Now, officials at Northumberland Estates, which owns the centre, have said it will re-open tomorrow (Saturday).

A spokesperson for Northumberland Estates said: “Unfortunately due to structural damage to a neighbouring building owned by a third party following storm Arwen, we were forced to close the Keel Row shopping centre in Blyth at the insistence of the Council and Fire Service as it was deemed to pose a serious health and safety risk to the public.

"Following demolition works undertaken over recent days, we have now received official permission from all the statutory bodies to re-open the centre based on the results of the latest structural survey which confirms the damaged building to no longer be a safety risk.

"As a result we are pleased to be able to announce that the centre will re-open for business tomorrow, Saturday 18th December at 9am.

“From the start of this process we have actively assisted the owner of the damaged property and their insurers in securing surveyors and contractors in an effort to resolve the matter as swiftly as possible.

"We have chased them on a daily basis as we too wanted the centre open as soon as it was safe to do so.

"We would like to thank the tenants for their patience and understanding during this process.”

Elsewhere, officials at Northumberland County Council have been reminding members of the public that although the shopping centre has been closed, the rest of the town remains open.

Council leader Glen Sanderson visited Blyth to promote the range of town centre businesses in the run up to Christmas and highlight that the vast majority of shops remain open.

Cllr Sanderson said: "It was a pleasure to speak to a number of business owners and market traders in Blyth.

"This disruption has come at the worst time and the owners of the affected buildings are working as quickly as they can to rectify the damage.

"The Council is providing support and I would like to remind people that there are many great shops, cafes and restaurants in Blyth town centre that are very much open for business.

"We have £20.9m of Town Deal investment lined up for Blyth but the next few weeks are critical for businesses that have already suffered difficult trading conditions due to Covid-19."

Work started on Monday to partially demolish and stabilise a building next to the Keel Row Shopping Centre which has led to the temporary closure of the centre and a number of adjacent shops.

Some of those traders affected by the closure have been offered temporary accommodation in other shop units or empty shop units until they can return.