Businesses could be moving to troubled Blackwood retail park
THE beleaguered Blackwood Gate Retail Park could be set for some good news, with its owner saying it now has businesses interested in taking up 40 per cent of the floor space.
Linnell Investments said retailers including Home Bargains, Lidl and Charlie’s DIY are ready to fill units on the park, which covers a site of 84,500 sq ft.
Blackwood Gate has been a hugely controversial issue locally ever since anchor store Focus DIY went bust two years ago, leaving the main unit empty.
The unit only had permission for retailers of bulky items to be based there, as stated in the Local Development Plan.
However, after approaching more than 100 bulky goods retailers, Linnell failed to get any interest. They felt filling the main unit was key to getting businesses in the other empty units, and asked councillors to grant them permission to place a supermarket there, after getting interest from Morrisons.
This was refused by the planning committee during the previous Plaid Cymru administration, leading to Labour using the issue as a main plank in their election campaign.
They pledged to overturn the planning decision and bring up to 300 jobs to the site. They subsequently triumphed in the elections last year.
However, the site has remained empty, with a bitter war of words ensuing between the two parties in Caerphilly county after it was revealed Morrisons would not be moving there after all.
A new planning application has now been granted by Caerphilly council, allowing a smaller element of food retail, a larger element of non-food retail as well as an element of bulky goods retail and leisure.
A spokesman for Linnell said the decision of Morrisons was a “significant stumbling block” as its previous planning application was based around its occupation.
But, he added: “We have now reached a position where two nationally-branded retailers are ready to occupy over 40 per cent of the space. One of these is Home Bargains.”
The spokesman added that Lidl and Charlie’s DIY are “extremely interested” in trading from the site.
Blackwood councillor Nigel Dix, although describing this as “a bumpy ride”, said: “This (planning) decision means that Blackwood Gate is now open for business and I look forward to seeing a thriving retail park, which will provide much needed employment.”
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