The four-acre Darlington North Retail Park, which is being developed by West Yorkshire-based property and investment company Opus North, is now fully occupied.
Construction began in March 2015 with Stainforth Construction of Shipley as the main contractor. Completion was early June with tenants now fitted out and trading.
The last remaining unit, comprising 1,400 sq ft, has just been let to Greggs.
Other occupiers on the park, which has created 150 jobs, include retail giants Aldi, Poundland and Iceland, together with a KFC Drive Thru’ restaurant, Subway, Card Factory, Jolleys Pet Store and Barnados.
The park has been built on land on Albert Road, next to its junction with North Road and Whessoe Road.
Just prior to work starting on site, Darlington North was sold to the British Steel Pension Fund for £10 million.
Andrew Duncan, managing director of Opus North, commented: “It is tremendous news that Darlington North is now fully occupied. The park is revitalising an important area of the town and is providing a very attractive retail offering.
“Meanwhile the sale of Darlington North is a massive endorsement of Darlington as a retail location. We worked hard, from assembling the land which was under different ownerships, to securing a raft of very popular and successful retail occupiers, so this sale was a satisfying conclusion.”
“We have also co-operated closely and successfully with planners at Darlington Borough Council. This is a very exciting development for the town of Darlington, creating jobs and boosting the economy.”
Opus North is funded by Palmer Capital, the London-based private equity real estate investment management company.
The 42,000 sq ft park comprises nine units, including the new 16,480 sq ft Aldi supermarket; the KFC drive thru’ restaurant; the 6,907 sq ft Iceland Foods store; and the range of non-food retail units. All the units offer modern retail warehouse accommodation and there are 157 free car parking spaces.
Coun Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “The new development is a good addition to the retail offer in the north of Darlington. It is great news that the North Retail Park is fully let, a clear signal that private businesses want to invest in Darlington.”
“This is the culmination of a great public-private sector partnership with Opus North, which has brought 150 new jobs and further choice of shops to the public. It’s fantastic to see another developer putting their faith in Darlington, proving it’s a town worth investing in. I’m confident that this will be another popular destination for shoppers from both inside and outside of the borough.”
The development site is prominently situated on the new junction on A167, which is the main arterial route north from Darlington town centre. Adjacent retailers are Morrisons, B&Q and B&M Bargains, alongside other established trade counter uses. The A167 is just two miles from the A1(M) as well as being very close to Darlington railway station, which is on the East Coast Main Line London-to-Edinburgh route.
The letting agents for North Darlington Retail Park are the Leeds office of CBRE and Griffiths Procter of Newcastle. DTZ advised the British Steel Pension Fund, while the Leeds office of Shulmans provided legal advice for Opus North and Leeds property consultancy Gent Visick provided investment advice.
John Foster, partner at Shulmans, said: “We were delighted to assist Opus North in this major project. Work from the first bit of site assembly through to starting on site took four years and was a major task. It culminated in completing the purchase, the sale, the funding and the start on site on one day in May.”
He added: “Dawn Carlisle led a Shulmans’ team of five lawyers, who brought to the party construction law, planning, property finance and retail letting skills”.