Homeware chain Dunelm is set to return to Newcastle Borough after councillors gave plans the green light.

The business moved out of Newcastle town centre in October 2018 after 25 years on the High Street. But it is now set to return to a new home at Wolstanton Retail Park.

An application for a new retail warehouse was approved by Newcastle Borough Council’s planning committee on Tuesday.

The new store, which will have a retail space of up to 35,000 square feet, has been earmarked for land between the M&S and Matalan stores, which is currently used for car parking.

There will be two storeys of retail space as well as a cafe, a design and access statement submitted as part of the application said. And alterations to the existing car park will provide 792 spaces for shoppers, including 50 for disabled users and 50 for parents and children.

A planning and retail statement said: “The proposal meets a pressing need to find new premises for Dunelm who have recently vacated substandard premises in the town centre. It did not meet the company’s current or future requirements for light, open stores with easy navigation.

 

“Dunelm does however wish to regain representation in Newcastle, and following consideration of a number of other premises and sites Dunelm has identified the application site as its preferred site for a new store in the town.

“It will bring about a number of material benefits including an additional 40-50 new jobs, 80-90% of which will be full time positions, and an enhancement of local ‘retail warehouse’ provision.

“The proposed store will retail predominantly bulky household goods including fabric, furniture, soft and hard furnishings, floor coverings, household goods, homewares and decorative products.”

At Tuesday’s planning committee councillors spoke in support of the new addition to the retail park.

Councillor Simon Tagg said: “I welcome this application. We have lost units in Newcastle town centre because we didn’t have the size of units.

“These things should be in town centres but in this day and age they are in out of town larger unit sites.

“Where this is going to be sited there is a gap there. Looking at the highways work there they have amended the traffic turnings on the site.”

Councillor Bert Proctor said: “These things are not in town centres but we all know what the reasons were. Given the circumstances, I support this.”

 

But Councillor John Williams highlighted the difficulty in getting to the retail park for shoppers without cars.

He said: “I’m a bit concerned with the public transport.

“There were buses going there – I don’t know if they still do run – but it takes a long time to get there. It took that long to get there you could walk it faster than go by bus. The bus went everywhere, and eventually that retail site.

“I agree the recommendation but could we ask the bus companies to look at it again and provide a better bus service to that development? We can’t put any pressure on them because they are commercial companies.”

Councillor Jennifer Cooper added: “Residents in my area bemoan the bus service. It did used to go to the retail park.”

But the meeting was told that a contribution towards public transport provision was not part of the conditions for approval. A £2,407 contribution towards travel plan monitoring was one of obligations recommended however.