WORK has started on a redevelopment that will give a town a leading supermarket for the first time in five years.
A 25,000 sq ft Morrisons store will be built on the site of a long-empty Somerfield store and a former council depot in Durham Road, Birtley.
The £20m scheme by developers Morbaine is expected to create 250 jobs and will also include two-storey shops. Contractors Watkin Jones has been working on the demolition of the old Council depot for around three months. A sod-cutting ceremony marked the symbolic start of demolition of the old supermarket.
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Geraint Morgan, of Watkin Jones, said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded the project to construct the new Morrisons store and that we are now on site doing the business. “The site is bounded on all sides by residents and local businesses and we have been delighted with the welcoming attitude towards this development.”
Graham Adams, of Morbaine, said: “Between ourselves and Morrisons we will be investing in excess of £20m into Birtley and we look forward to completing a development that everyone will be proud of for many years to come.”
Gateshead Council director of economic and housing growth Andrew Hickie, said: “Local people have long called for a new supermarket to replace the old closed Somerfield store. This means that we’re yet another step closer to achieving that goal of creating an improved retail offer for Birtley.”