Masterplanning event attracts hundreds

Around 600 people came to see for themselves the latest stage of Morpeth’s Masterplan - a joint vision for the future redevelopment of the town.

Northumberland County Council has been working with a range of stakeholders including Morpeth Forum to develop a masterplan on how the town develops over the next few years and how services can best be delivered to local people.

The main issues raised by those who took part in November’s initial event were parking, schools and education, leisure and sports facilities and the future of key buildings and land in the town.

An update session has now been held to let people know what progress has been made on these issues - and advise on the next steps.

As well as the county council, a number of developers attended to showcase their plans at a number of sites in the town.

Cllr Richard Wearmouth, Cabinet member for Economic Development: "We were really pleased with the turnout. Hundreds of people came along and it really shows how passionate people are about the future of their town.

“Since November work has progressed on a number of improvements, from increasing temporary car parking to encouraging developers to bring forward their projects.

“We’ll now be completing a number of feasibility studies into issues such as parking and leisure provision, before bringing options back to the local community for further discussion."

Developers who attended the event at the Town Hall also outlined their future plans.

Barry Ladhar, Managing Director of Crafted Projects, owner of the Queens Head Hotel, said: “We were absolutely delighted by the number of positive comments received at the planning day held at the Town Hall and the subsequent feedback on social media.

“The company is looking to bring their award winning ‘Pleased To Meet You’ brand to Bridge Street, reinstating a high quality shop front and bringing back into use the Queens Head Hotel.

“We will be on site with the initial fit out in the coming weeks with opening for the bar restaurant in Autumn.  The creation of a boutique hotel and function facility will follow soon after.”

Ken Beattie, Joint Chairman of Morpeth Town Football Club, said: “It is our desire for Morpeth Town FC to be at the heart of the town, the whole facility will be designed to be inclusive and friendly.

“Our aim is to create a state of the art sports and community hub over the next two years to increase overall participation in sport at the site by 50 per cent. The club will go from strength-to-strength, expanding and developing with the growth of our great community.

Ken, who is also Director of Enviro Property Partners Limited, which is developing the old police station site, said: “As people who have a passion for Morpeth, Bryan Beattie and myself thought it a great opportunity to undertake a project that could really make a difference when the police station became available for sale.

“The site stands on an extremely prominent position and it is our intention along with our colleagues in Enviro Property Partners to put something together that will greatly enhance what we consider to be the gateway to the town and create a development that the residents of Morpeth can be really proud of "

The former Rafa Club, Elm House, on Dacre Street, is to be converted into a new restaurant.

Zonic Developments, the developer behind the conversion of the new Lollo Rosso restaurant, hopes it will provide an alternative fine dining experience for the people of Morpeth, along the lines of Cafe 21 in Newcastle.

It is anticipated that the work on converting the property will start in the summer and be completed within six months.

David Nicholson of Zonic Investments said: "Morpeth is growing rapidly and we would like to be an integral part in the town's expansion. We have identified an opportunity that its not currently available to the residents of the town, while at the same time helping to breathe new life and function into an otherwise empty and redundant building.

“It is our vision that by providing quality and diverse dining experiences in Morpeth, the town will not only benefit from employment opportunities and increased foot fall but will also help to stimulate further inward investment."

Zonic are also currently carrying out renovations to the former Appleby's bookstore with a view to bringing it back to use in the near future.

North East based developers Roseville Asset Management Limited has announced proposals to redevelop the former Benfield Motors car showroom and former garage workshop premises at Castle Square and at Hillgate, into a new high quality residential development.

The prominent town centre site has remained derelict for several years since the garage closed but the company will shortly be submitting a full planning application for permission to construct a new luxury development of 46 apartments and 5 townhouses on the site.

The properties will benefit from views across the river Wansbeck and Carlisle Park and include secure underground car parking, private terraced gardens, swimming pool and leisure facilities for residents.

Roseville’s director Stephen Foster said: “This will be a unique development for Morpeth that also allows for pedestrian access directly into the town centre across the footbridge and provide a great  opportunity to re-develop an unsustainable industrial site within the conservation area of the town centre.”

To view the county council's presentation boards from the event click on the links below:
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