Mark Dransfield and his team hit Morpeth yesterday - talking to residents of Staithes Lane, and then the Town Council - don't know who else besides.
Essentially, he's worried about his investment in the town centre development if Sainsbury's or Tesco's get permission for an out-of-town supermarket. [When he talks about Morpeth as 'our town' - think of it as ownership as well as identification]. So he's bringing forward a planning application for a supermarket on Low Stanners in the hope that this will stymie planning permission for the out-of-town supermarkets.
Essentially - the Highways Depot will become an extension of the existing car park with bridges over the Cotting Burn, and the supermarket will be roughly where Robson Prescott's (the vets) is now. The car park will be two storey, with the lower level half underground - with flood water storage tanks below that. Delivery lorries will access along a widened Staithes Lane - which will require the Red Bull pub to be demolished.
He has backing from the Chamber of Trade and he was lobbying the local residents and the Town Council yesterday. And he's doing a very complicated dance with the County Council: they have their eye on the site for a new library, info centre and health clinic (replacing the Cottage Hospital). He is now trying to convince them that the NHS/NCC land along Gas House Lane (Terrace Car Park to The Willows) could be used for this. (He suggested the Willows could be relocated to the Easter Field, next to Easterfield Court - obviously doesn't know the history of that site)
Anyway - the timing is very tight: for this scheme to have any bearing on the Sainsbury decision, the planning application has to be in before the Sainsbury application comes to committe. I thought that was Thurs July 2nd - but Mark assures me it is now Thurs Aug 6th. BTW - our two 'local' Morpeth councillors on the ten-member Northern Area Planning Committee are Cllr David Woodard (lives in Ulgham) and Cllr David Moore (lives on the west edge of Morpeth).