Final closing date for Keel Row Shopping Centre in Blyth confirmed

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Keel Row Shopping Centre in Blyth will close for the final time Thursday, February 29, Northumberland County Council has confirmed.

The council announced in July that it had acquired the centre from Northumberland Estates and would be closing it, with eight of the centre’s 20 units occupied. It is now set to be demolished.

The EE phone shop in the centre will close on February 10, followed by Bonmarché on February 20. These are the only two units currently open in the centre.

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Of the tenants in the centre when the closure was announced, only Card Factory has so far relocated within Blyth.

Keel Row Shopping Centre will close on February 29, 2024. (Photo by Craig Buchan)Keel Row Shopping Centre will close on February 29, 2024. (Photo by Craig Buchan)
Keel Row Shopping Centre will close on February 29, 2024. (Photo by Craig Buchan)

Councillor Wojciech Ploszaj, cabinet member for business, said: “While this does mark the end of an era, retail remains an important part of the town centre and we would encourage people to continue to visit while we improve the town.

“Anyone that has visited Blyth recently will see all the regeneration work that is taking place. From the STEM-focused Energy Central Learning Hub taking shape at Port of Blyth to the new cultural venue work starting on Market Place.

“The Keel Row acquisition means we can bring forward more major development in the town centre including investment in educational, innovation and cultural activities.

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“This will make the town a more welcoming, safe, and popular place to visit, attracting a wide range of people wanting to work, learn, and enjoy all the town has to offer.”

Proposals for what will replace the centre have not been finalised, but will include the Energy Central Institute, a higher education facility supporting the renewable energy industry in the town that will form part of the Energy Central Campus project.

The Keel Row car park has also been acquired by the council, as has the vacant property at 7-9 Bridge Street, and town centre parking will remain at the site. The possibility of building a new hotel at the site is also still alive.

The Willie Carr statue at the site will be stored by the council until a decision on its future is made, but the council says it will remain in the town.

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Mayor of Blyth Warren Taylor said: “As sad as it is to see the Keel Row close, we are optimistic that the developments taking place on the Market Place such as the culture venue, the proposed higher education facility, and a new hotel, will provide a boost to retailers in the town centre and encourage other businesses to invest.”

Cllr Kath Nisbet, who represents Croft ward, added: “I am very sad that the shopping centre is closing and we have all tried our best to keep businesses in the town.

“The town centre has a host of excellent businesses and small independent traders, and recent new entrants have improved what is on offer.

“Looking forward, I hope everyone will keep visiting the town as there is lots on offer and bigger things to come.”

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Tony Quinn, vice chair of Blyth’s Town Deal Board, said: “The purchase of the site paves the way for the development of the hugely exciting Energy Central Campus project that will bring the cutting edge research facilities we have in Blyth closer to the region’s colleges and universities.”

The redevelopment of the site will be part of the £90m Energising Blyth regeneration programme.