Traders concerned about retail park’s threat to town centre

Alnwick Town Centre
Alnwick Town Centre

Town-centre traders are keen for their input to be heard as part of an assessment of the impact a new retail park on the outskirts of Alnwick will have.

Julie Robinson, who runs Emporium, on Bondgate Without, as well as Boutique Ravello, on Narrowgate, was at last Thursday’s meeting of Alnwick Town Council to find out more about the progress of the planning application for the development on land south of Greensfield Industrial Estate.

Julie said: “I’m not in the slightest bit interested in the competition, I can deal with that, but I think the big boys are going to pull out and ruin our lovely town centre.

“Local independent businesses are the heart of this community.”

Coun Martin Swinbank, chairman of the council’s planning committee, explained that the decision would be made by the county council, not the town council.

He explained that the town council was not opposed to the development, so long as it could be demonstrated that it would not have a significant impact on the town centre, in line with the neighbourhood plan.

The county council has commissioned an independent assessment of this issue, into which Julie and Coun Lisa Aynsley, who also runs a town-centre business, are keen to have an input as traders and employers of local people.

Amended priorities agreed alongside masterplan exercise

Councillors in Alnwick have agreed that several priorities relating to the town centre should be tackled in the coming year.

The decision came as members reviewed the progress of community action proposals – part of the neighbourhood plan – at last Thursday’s town-council meeting.

It was agreed to merge several linked proposals into one priority for 2018/19 to be dealt with by an overall working group.

These issues include encouraging and promoting independent retail outlets, developing a whole-year strategy for the Market Place, vacant and disused town-centre accommodation, and the potential for more events.

The town council, alongside other stakeholders, has also agreed to work with the county council on a masterplan for Alnwick, following the success of a similar exercise in Morpeth.

This would focus on a number of key community sites, mainly owned or occupied by the county council and some of which are currently vacant, such as the old Duchess’s school site, the Willowburn depot, the Northumberland Hall and the Playhouse, but there are also other important locations like the Duke’s Middle School. The first priority would be the former Lindisfarne Middle School site.