A long-awaited £5m development in Middlesbrough, featuring new affordable homes and shops, is nearing completion.

Newbridge Court will be ready in July.  It has been built on the site of the Tollesby shops in Acklam which had become a derelict eyesore, described by Middlesbrough Council as “a magnet for crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour”.

In their place are 22 larger than average two-bedroom apartments and two one bedroom homes which sit above four retail units.  One will be occupied by the national convenience chain One Stop but local retailers are being invited to apply for the remaining shop spaces which range from 734 to 1,016 sq ft.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for a business which can offer a great service to the new residents of Newbridge Court as well as all of the other people who live in the area,” said Richard Wilson, Senior Associate with Dodds Brown.  Dodds Brown is marketing the retail units on behalf of the Middlesbrough Development Company which built the scheme.

Application forms are available from Dodds Brown (phone number 01642 244130) and anybody interested needs to provide details of their trading history or relevant experience, as well as a business plan.

“We’re looking for retailers who will complement One Stop and not duplicate what it’s going to sell,” said Mr Wilson.  “A hairdresser or beautician, for example, could be ideal but we also think a pet grooming business, a café or even a post office could do well here.

“We expect the successful applicants to have experience in running a retail business but we’re not ruling out start ups as long as they have a convincing business plan.”

Tony Dodds, the Managing Director of the Middlesbrough Development Company, said: “From their comments we know that local people are looking forward to welcoming this new community.  There was always a desire to get some commercial use back on this site and I think a mixed scheme like this will be highly successful.  It’s a difficult time for retailers but we’re confident there will be the right level of business they are going to need.  That’s going to come from the people living here as well as the residents in the surrounding area.”

He added: “We’ve had a lot of interest in the apartments and I think it’s going to be the same for the retail units.”

The project has already provided work for a number of people living on Teesside. “We’ve encouraged the main contactor to utilise the local workforce wherever possible, resulting in around 50% of the labour on site to be locally based with the balance living in the wider region,” said Mr Dodds.

As well as looking forward to the opening of the new shops, local residents already benefit from the presence of a popular pub –  The Endeavour Hotel – which has just re-opened after a refurbishment.