WORK has begun on a major supermarket chain’s new branch which will create 15 new jobs at a landmark building in Barton.
The merging of three units within Westcliffe Buildings, at Sea Road’s junction with Seaward Avenue, to house a Co-op store comes two-and-a-half years since it was given the go-ahead by New Forest District Council.
Herbert H Drew & Son was the original contractor for the development when the planning application was granted in January 2018, but the firm went into administration four months later.
Speaking at the latest virtual full New Milton Town Council meeting, Cllr Keith Craze announced Westcliffe Buildings’ trustees had secured a new contractor.
“They will take out what were three retail units,” he said. “The Co-op for the last two or three years have been looking at the site.”
Dating back to the 1930s, Westcliffe Buildings has been devoid of businesses since the local post office moved out in 2016, later relocating to Barton Mews in Cliff Terrace. Along with the post office, it had hosted a grocers/off-licence and a hair salon.
The Co-op’s opening there next year will mark the chain’s return to the area about five years after its branch in Station Road, New Milton, shut down.
A Co-op spokesperson said: “Pending completion of the works currently being undertaken by the landlord, the Co-op is looking forward to providing the community of Barton with a new store in 2021.
“A six-figure investment will create up to 15 jobs for local people. The store will run on renewable electricity and have a focus on fresh, healthy products, food-to-go, vegan and free-from foods, Fairtrade products, award-winning wines, meal ideas and essentials.
“Our aim is to operate at the heart of local life, connecting communities and making a difference locally, and Co-op’s membership scheme sees local causes receive a funding boost every time our members buy own-brand products.”