Kirkby precint demolished as town centre regeneration begins

NMAC11-1388-2''Demolition work has started on Kirkby Precint
NMAC11-1388-2''Demolition work has started on Kirkby Precint

IT was the end of an era on Friday after work began to demolish the precinct in Kirkby town centre as part of the long-awaited regeneration plans.

The precinct was once home to a number of well-known shops and cafes - but it had seen an increasing number of shop spaces lay vacant as the town centre economy struggled.

Supermarket giant Morrisons was then given the go-ahead to redevelop the site as part of an overall masterplan to revampt the town.

Yesterday, Simon Wright, who owns Lighthouse Estate Agents close to the precinct in Kirkby, said that he welcomed the regeneration.

He said: “I think it does need demolishing because it’s full of rats and pigeons. It’s got a lot of structural issues and it is going to cost a lot of money. Personally, I would have built a small shopping centre with big name brands.”

But Mr Wright also voiced his concerns about the lack of free parking in the town for shoppers and workers, as well as congestion on the roads.

He says: “All of a sudden, the biggest moan in the town is, ‘I can’t park my car’.

He also said that the extra customers coming to Morrisons would struggle with the road system - and believes the simplest solution is to relocate the bus stops on Urban Road and open up Lowmoor Road.

“It’s certainly going to bring a crazy amount of cars and the road system cannot cope,” he said.

Members of the council’s planning committee granted permission for Morrisons to create a new store in Kirkby last year.

In March, we reported that Ashfield District Council Leader John Knight had joined employees from O’Leary Construction Ltd for the ground breaking ceremony as market stalls were cleared in preparation for work to begin.

The Co-op ceased trading on 7th May to make way for the new Morrisons, which will have 2,795 sq metres shop floor space and parking for 346 vehicles.

Ashfield District Council has submitted a planning application for road improvements to accommodate the new store.

The authority plans to make adjustments to Lowmoor Road and Ellis Street, including a new mini roundabout.

Meanwhile, Morrisons is set to provide funds for a new civic square under a Section 106 agreement, which is used by local authorities to ensure that major developments also benefit the community.