PLANS have been lodged to convert a shop unit which has been disused for “too long” into a supermarket.

TJ Morris Limited, the owner of Home Bargains, have submitted a proposal to redevelop the old Comet site at Derwent Retail Park in Workington. It is the second major development set to take place at the shopping precinct as Aldi are in the process of refurbishing their site.

Shopper Mike Webb said that it is exciting news for the area, as the unit has been out of use for “too long.”

He said: “That would be great. It’s been closed for two and a half years now.”

Home Bargains also own a store in Washington Square Shopping Centre.

Mr Webb said: “But that’s in the town centre. Once they’ve extended it, it’ll bring more people here.”

He and his wife shop at Derwent Retail Park every fortnight, making the trip from Gosforth. He added that a Home Bargains supermarket would improve what the retail park has to offer.

Are the plans a ray of hope whilst high street retailers are “on the brink”?

Deputy leader of Allerdale Borough Council Mike Johnson said: “It’s absolutely good news whenever any large business wants to have a facility or shop in the town it's welcome. It's local jobs, it's availability for people."

Mr Johnson is Allerdale council's executive member for economic growth, community development and placemaking.

He said: "It's exceptionally challenging moving forward. Covid-19 I think has accelerated some of the downturn in town centre shopping. With Debenhams on the brink it's a challenging situation.

He said: "It's going to be an extremely challenging time."

Mr Johnson added that plans to shake-up or repurpose beleaguered high streets may be required.

"Gone are the days of a town centre being what we knew for the last 20 to 30 years."

However, news of a second Home Bargains store in Workington is reason for hope.

"With the current jobs market, it's welcome. It'll be interesting to see whether they'll maintain the town centre store."

TJ Morris Limited will need full planning permission to redevelop the old Comet site into one of their cut-price supermarkets. An official decision could be made in January at the latest.