WALLSEND will have to wait at least another two years for a new supermarket in its town centre, it was revealed this week.
A new anchor store will be coming to the Forum Shopping Centre – but not until at least 2013, its owner told a meeting of North Tyneside Council’s Wallsend area forum on Tuesday.
NewRiver Retail, the Guernsey-based developer that took over the Forum in December, has unveiled its plans to give the mall a revamp.
As part of its refurbishment plans, it is looking at applying to North Tyneside Council for a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for the former Co-op store, currently owned by Morrisons, if the supermarket giant refuses to sell it.
If it has to proceed that way, the project could be delayed even further, however.
The timetable outlined at this week’s meeting would see construction and refurbishment work start in the summer of 2012, to be completed by the summer after, ready for new retailers to move in and start trading by autumn 2013.
NewRiver property director Allan Lockhart said the Forum had not had any investment made in it since 1996 but that was now set to change.
He said: “We aim to provide an attractive town centre for the people of Wallsend.
“The good news is that we have the resources and finance to make sure this happens.
“Together we can bring forward a better town centre that Wallsend truly deserves.“
However, Jules Rutherford, a campaigner for improvements to Wallsend town centre, asked why a CPO had not been sought sooner.
She said: “I am gutted. I thought that in the not too distant future, I would be able to walk into a supermarket in Wallsend, but it’s going to be another two years before that happens.
“As far as I can see, without a supermarket, we have no footfall, and retailers are not going to be able to survive.”
Campaigners will continue to protest at the Forum on the first Saturday of every month as part of their call for action to improve the town centre.
Designs for two options that NewRiver is considering for the shopping centre were put on display at the meeting, attended by around 200 residents.
They reveal that people living in Hedley Place face eviction by the council as their homes are set to be demolished as part of the regeneration project.
One resident present asked: “What will happen if people do not want to leave their homes?”
Matthew Foreman, housing operations manager at the council, replied: “If you do not want to leave your home, we will have to consider what the next option will be.”
Paul Gowans, the authority’s head of cultural and customer services, was less vague, however, conceding that residents would have to leave their homes whether they liked it or not.