A NEW supermarket development on Wearside could be the catalyst for hundreds more new jobs, says the man charged with making it a reality.
The Echo revealed last week that Tesco is set to create more than 300 positions with a new store on the Peel Retail Park at Washington.
Peel Land and Property unveiled plans for an 87,400sqft new superstore with 560 car parking spaces, café and petrol station at its retail park off the A1231.
Senior development surveyor Roger Wheeldon said the property firm was also planning to redevelop a building on the site which had been ear-marked as a sports club, but never opened.
“Looking at the whole thing, we could be looking at 500 or 600 jobs, so it is a big development,” said Mr Wheeldon.
The success of shops in the town centre proved there was considerable potential in Washington, but the Peel Retail Park had struggled to keep pace.
“Sainsbury’s has just been refurbished, as has the Galleries itself. Looking at how the town centre is doing, there are virtually no empty units.”
The public got the chance to have their say on the Peel plans when they went on display in the entrance to Washington Leisure Centre.
“It has been very, very good,” said Mr Wheeldon.
“There are a lot of people coming through and I would say 90 per cent are in favour. We have had some really positive comments from people, saying they would like to see some competition and it has got to be a good thing.”
Tesco is also set to open a store on the redeveloped Roker retail park off Newcastle Road as part of a major expansion into Wearside.
“Sunderland historically has been a very big catchment area where Tesco has not had anything. People have been saying they go to Chester-le-Street or Durham, which is quite a long drag.”
Clive Brown, 72, from Ayton, Washington, was among those giving the scheme the once-over.
“I think the plans are very good,” he said. I will definitely use it – it is only 10 minutes away. Both supermarkets in the town at the moment are at the Galleries and it is getting harder and harder to park there.”