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Homebase DIY store set to be opened in Hexham

HEXHAM is set for a major trade boost as DIY giant Homebase is poised to set up shop in the town.

Several leading names have thrown their hat into the ring for the multi-million pound development at Hexham railway station’s disused goods yard.

Fashion shop Next and bike and car accessories chain Halfords are said to have expressed an interest.

And the site is also set to become home to the regional dramatics group, Theatre Sans Frontieres.

However, it is the planned 20,000sqft Homebase unit, incorporating a DIY store and a garden centre, that will be the most significant arrival.

If all goes according to plan, the site will be up-and-running by spring 2013.

The scheme is being put in place by Barnard Castle-based Rokeby Developments.

Rokeby director Adrian Goodall said yesterday: “We hope this will attract people to Hexham rather than them having to go miles away for what they want.

“We had previously worked on a Homebase at Northallerton, North Yorkshire, and so I was aware of their requirements.

“But with the country in the state it is, it’s been difficult for any retailer to nail their colours to the mast.

“This has been in the offing for three or four years, but it is only recently Homebase have decided to go through with it. They are very upbeat and have a very positive view of Hexham.”

It is thought more than 100 jobs could be created and Hexham Business Forum chairman Sandy Rutherford warmly welcomed the news.

Mr Rutherford said: “I believe this mini-retail park will complement existing businesses in Hexham.

“I don’t believe there will be any adverse effect on the businesses in the town. Although an edge-of-town development, it will draw people into Hexham, and we would hope to be able to keep them here.”

The news brings to a happy conclusion many years of discussion over the fate and future of the run-down station area.

Previous proposed developments faded after planning disputes blew up and key players pulled out.

Hexham has also gone without a major garden centre since Tynedale Park – on the site of the current Tesco 24-hour superstore – closed in January 2005.

Mr Goodall added: “There’s real pressure now to wrap up the legal negotiations but we hope to do that over the next two or three weeks and get the planning application in by February.

“We are trying to run that in parallel with the design – we have to resolve the design of infrastructure, which includes the car park access.”

In total, the station yard site offers 34,000sqft of retail space.

The car park will be built on the north side of the station and the 8,000sqft garden centre behind the Homebase store. Two former engine sheds at the station, will be refurbished, with the theatre group adopting one as their HQ.

Source : Paul Tully – The Journal

21 January 2012
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