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Store on FC site awaits kick-off; 200 new jobs on way at pounds 25m Asda.

Byline: Dave Black

WORK could start within weeks on a pounds 25m superstore which will create more than 200 new jobs in a former Northumberland pit town.

The 24-hour Asda store planned at Ashington Football Club's former home, Portland Park, will employ a total of 500 workers - and form part of a major new retail development proposed in the Lintonville area of the town.

Yesterday Asda bosses said they are hopeful of a positive outcome when a special meeting of Wansbeck Council's regulatory committee is held on November 5 to make a decision on the planning application.

If approved, work would start almost immediately on building the 53,000sq ft store on the ground where Ashington FC played their home matches for 100 years, and which is now being demolished.

Asda says the new store will create at least 200 full and part-time jobs, on top of the 300 employees who will transfer from its existing supermarket in Lintonville. In addition, the company believes it will provide a significant jobs boost for the local economy in uncertain economic times.

Asda will establish an employment partnership with Jobcentre Plus to target long-term unemployed people in the Ashington area, and those looking to return to work.

Yesterday Philip Bartram, Asda's property communications manager, said: "Since we submitted our planning application, we have had fantastic backing and support from the local community.

"In uncertain economic times, our plans will generate at least 200 new jobs in Ashington. We are now looking forward to elected councillors making the final decision on our application on November 5, and are hopeful of a positive outcome."

The new store will include a cafe, a home shopping service, a photocentre and jewellery counter.

It is part of a wider, 950-job scheme which also involves redevelopment of the existing Asda store's site and construction of a retail park by property company Terrace Hill.

A spokesman for Wansbeck Council said planning officers would draft a report with recommendations on the Asda application following discussions with the company's planning consultants in the next few days.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 23, 2008
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