THE wrecking balls are preparing to get into full swing on a Newbury regeneration project which will result in the loss of a town centre supermarket.
Developer Eden Ltd intends to begin demolishing the now largely empty row of shops at Pearl House, 11 to 15 Bartholomew Street, later this month.
As a result, the development will see the Iceland store close at the end of December before that section of the building is torn down in January and February.
The frozen food specialist has said it is currently looking for alternative premises in Newbury. Director of corporate affairs at Iceland Foods Ltd, Keith Hann, said: “The Iceland store in Newbury will close on December 31, 2017.
“This is the result of our landlord terminating our lease to permit redevelopment of the site.
“We very much hope to continue trading in Newbury and have been looking for an alternative store site for several months now, but so far no suitable property has become available.”
Around 20 staff will be affected.
The supermarket had been due to close in July. However, bosses negotiated an extension until December 31, allowing the store to adjust staffing levels in preparation for its closure.
Mr Hann added: “We are currently in consultations with our store colleagues.
“We thank our many loyal customers in Newbury for their support and can assure them that we aim to return as soon as we are able to do so.”
The now tired-looking and dated Pearl House will make way for a new mixed retail and residential development opposite the Kennet Shopping centre with four new shops and 47 new flats.
Plans submitted last year would see the new building occupy four storeys, with the new retail units on the ground floor, and one- and two-bed flats on the upper three floors. Parking facilities for 47 cars and 93 cycle spaces will be provided.
The demolition is planned to begin on November 20 (once West Berkshire Council give approval) and is expected to be completed by the end of February 2018.
The regeneration of Pearl House received the backing of Newbury Town Council planning and highways department. However, members ultimately rejected the submitted plans owing to a lack of affordable housing.
In the planning application approved in August 2016, developer Lunar Retail SARL had included no affordable units in the scheme. The developer claimed through a viability assessment that if it were to include any affordable homes the site would no longer be viable – a claim that was backed by West Berkshire Council planners.
Pearl House was home to the Red Stores department store in the early 20th century before being redeveloped to make way for the Regal Cinema. A five-storey office block was built on the site and stood until the late 90s, before being partially demolished, leaving the lower floors, occupied until recently by a selection of retailers, including Wild Sports, Nail Bar and currently Iceland.