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Work to finally resume on new Co-op branch at Westcliffe Buildings in Barton after year-long legal wrangle

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THE creation of a supermarket chain’s new branch in a landmark Barton building is finally set to resume after a year-long legal wrangle.

Westcliffe Buildings, at Sea Road’s junction with Seaward Avenue, is set to host the new Co-op, but no construction work has been carried out on-site since May 2021.

Hampshire County Council had been waiting for the developer to enter into a legal agreement to deliver approved associated road improvements.

Construction work started in summer 2020
Construction work started in summer 2020

These included amending the existing parking area in front of the building, with better pedestrian and cycling facilities.

The car park area is also set to be resurfaced along with the footway in Seaward Avenue.

But New Milton mayor Cllr Keith Craze told the A&T the developer and HCC were in “the final throes” of signing off the works.

The chair of the Trustees of the Westcliffe Buildings, which currently owns the premises, has since contacted the contractors for work to resume as soon as possible.

“I’m delighted to hear there has been a positive update that will lead to progress being made during the course of the summer,” Cllr Craze said.

“We look forward to welcoming the Co-op in due course.”

As reported in the A&T, the branch’s construction finally started in summer 2020 – two-and-a-half years after getting the go-ahead from New Forest District Council, with the promised creation of 15 new jobs.

The Co-op will lease the building.

Dating back to the 1930s, Westcliffe Buildings has been devoid of businesses since the 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.

Three units have been merged to house the Co-op as the chain returns to the area about seven years after its branch shut down in Station Road, New Milton. Marks & Spencer Food recently launched at that site.

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