Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Traders' Anger at Town Centre Plans; Call for Meeting with Planners

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Traders' Anger at Town Centre Plans; Call for Meeting with Planners

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Tully

TRADERS' leaders in Prudhoe are to seek a face-to-face meeting with planning chiefs to thrash out town centre redevelopment plans.

The Duke of Northumberland wants to see the area redeveloped with a supermarket, housing, offices, retail and a multi-storey car park.

The pounds 25m plans from his business arm, Northumberland Estates, have been met with strong opposition - and following a major public meeting on Monday, the differences remain.

Objectors say the nature of the town would be ruined if the plans go ahead, but those in favour say it would give provide a major economic boost.

John Short, Prudhoe Traders' Association chairman, now wants to form a delegation to meet county planners and debate areas of fact.

Disputes include the height of acoustic barriers near houses, figures on official documents and noise levels.

Mr Short said: "The public meeting should have been where we cleared up discrepancies, but that didn't happen.

"I was absolutely, totally dissatisfied. The whole thing was shambolic. The level of accuracy was poor.

"Prudhoe does not need this development. It is bucking the trend, for only two of 97 shops are empty whereas the national high street average of empty shops is 31%."

Colin Barnes, head of planning at Northumberland Estates, said: "The meeting gave objectors a platform to air their concerns, but what the meeting didn't have the opportunity to explore was the economic benefits for the town.

"People got sidelined on three issues - boundary treatment, impact on existing traders and the increase in traffic.

"There are a lot of people who actually want to see this redevelopment happening, but they have felt intimidated about speaking."

Town Mayor Coun Jennifer McGee, who forced Monday's meeting through protocol rules, said: "There are a number of inaccuracies in the documentation, but one thing that didn't get highlighted is the topography of the site. …

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