A £20m investment which will see a Lidl supermarket and a Travelodge hotel built in Hexham has been given the green light.

The scheme, proposed by Union Property Development, will see a 69-bed Travelodge hotel, a Lidl food store, and a 250-space public car park built on the former bunker site, off Alemouth Road.

The planning application was approved by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee on Tuesday. Councillors also agreed to grant permission for a separate application to relocate a Grade-II listed wall to allow access to the site.

Paul Wharrier, of Hexham Civic Society, spoke to raise concerns about access to the site for pedestrians, who would face a long detour when coming from the railway station. Hexham resident David Preston also spoke about pedestrian safety at the proposed new roundabout, suggesting a crossing could be installed further down the access road.

The development will see improvements to the existing roundabout at the Alemouth Road and Station Road junction, including widening the road and creating a fourth arm off the roundabout into the new site.

Hexham county councillor for the area, Trevor Cessford, said: “The site in Hexham has been standing empty for over 30 years now. It’s an eyesore, it needs redeveloped and has done for quite a while.”

He explained that he and county councillor for Hexham East, Cath Homer, had worked for years to try to secure more parking for the town.

Coun. Trevor Thorne said this would be “a shot in the arm to the economy in the town” and Coun. Colin Horncastle added: “For years Hexham has been on the doldrums with so many vacant places in the town. For a town that is struggling to have a massive investment from somebody is a big plus.”

Council officers said other access options were not practical at this time, but taking concerns on board, a representative from Union Property Development said it would be open to speaking with Network Rail about bringing an old railway tunnel, linking the site and the railway station, into use for pedestrians.

Following the approval, Coun. Cath Homer said: “The new hotel and car parking will provide much needed new facilities for visitors to the town, improving the tourism offer, raising the profile of Hexham and encouraging longer stays in the area.”