Sale paves the way for retail park near Houghton

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PLANS for a redevelopment of the Rainton Meadows Arena site have moved a step forward – though the recession has taken its toll on the project.

The Echo revealed Roseberry Group proposals last year for a major hotel, shopping and leisure development which could create more than 800 jobs. The scheme planned to include an £8.5million 120-bedroom hotel, 90,000sq ft supermarket and new 3,000-seater arena.

Now councillors have given the thumbs-up to moves to help make the plan a reality, with the city council’s cabinet approving the sale of a three-acre parcel of land to the rear of the existing arena.

But the plans have now been redrawn, with the planned supermarket making way for a retail park with the hotel scheme being put on ice.

Roseberry Group director Michael Roseberry welcomed news the cabinet had backed the sale of the council-owned plot.

“I am delighted to hear they have agreed to sell us this land,” he said.

“At first we thought about putting a supermarket on our land, but the council has prioritised the colliery site in Houghton which, due to Government legislation, is preferable, so our developers have said why don’t we look at a retail park on our site?”

The aim is to sell the existing plot to a developer, which will free up the funds for a new arena on the land which the company is buying from the council.

“We are look at selling it to a developer, which is 99.9 per cent of the way to happening,” said Michael.

“That will allow us to build a new arena.”

But while the arena and retail park sites are still on course, the hotel plan has bitten the dust – at least for the time being.

“The hotel has slid to one side because of the economy,” said Michael.

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