Aldi set to create 25 jobs at new store in Newcastle
DISCOUNT supermarket chain Aldi is planning to open a food store on a key town centre gateway site.
It wants to build on the former home of Blackfriars Bakery, at the corner of Blackfriars Road and Lower Street in Newcastle, and create 25 jobs.
Although no formal plans have been submitted at this stage, it is inviting residents and traders to take a look at its proposals before the designs are finalised.
A spokesman for Aldi said: "We believe that our proposals offer an excellent opportunity to regenerate this vacant but important site at the gateway to the town centre.
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"As well as providing a modern shopping environment and improving choice for local customers, the new Aldi store would provide up to 25 full and part-time jobs which we would aim to staff from the local community.
"We are keen to ensure that the views of the local community are heard. As a result, we have recently sent a community newsletter with a postage paid feedback card to more than 800 households to better understand views and look forward to welcoming people to our public exhibition."
The brownfield site was originally the base for family bakers FW Burgess until 1996 when the company went into voluntary liquidation with the loss of 70 jobs.
Several failed schemes have been drawn up over the years, including proposals to turn the first floor of the redundant bakery, which has now been demolished, into a gym and snooker club. In 1997 it was earmarked for a multiplex cinema but the idea was scrapped when Warner Village opened in the former Fine Fare building opposite.
But in June last year, The Sentinel reported how council officials wanted to avoid building shops on the land.
A report to Newcastle Borough Council's cabinet said allowing a large retail development on the empty land could damage business in the heart of the town centre.
Carl Evans, president of Newcastle Chamber of Trade and Enterprise, who also runs Cartridge World in George Street, said the site would be better suited to housing. He added: "We need footfall within the inner ring road. To me this proposal simply puts another supermarket outside the ring road.
"I'd much rather see it developed on the site of the old Sainsbury's for example. If an employer wants to come to Newcastle and create jobs I welcome that, but this site puts more retail outside the town centre."
The borough council and Staffordshire County Council also spent £4 million in jointly purchasing the former Sainsbury's store last year. According to consultants, the site could attract £60 million of investment, and create up to 700 jobs if developed as a retail and leisure centre.
A public exhibition on Aldi's plans takes place on Tuesday from 3pm until 8pm at the Westland Suite of The Borough Arms Hotel, in King Street.
Residents can also find out more about the scheme by calling 0800 298 7040.