1,600 store jobs boost

Artist's impression of the new Tesco Extra store planned for Peterlee.

Artist's impression of the new Tesco Extra store planned for Peterlee.

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Durham Councy Council’s county planning committee gave the go ahead for a new Tesco Extra store on the landsite of the former East Durham College site, in Peterlee’s Burnhope Way, as well as the green light for a new food store within the town’s Castle Dene Shopping Centre.

Planning officers had recommended that the two schemes go ahead and that an application by North Blunts for Morrisons to move into a planned store on the site of the former North Blunts Primary School, in Tweed Close, be rejected.

They had also recommended that an extension to Dalton Park, in Murton, be rejected over concerns that it would have a detrimental impact on Peterlee and Seaham town centre.

But at the end of a tense two-hour planning meeting at Durham’s County Hall, councillors voted to approve the Dalton Park plans, which includes a new cinema, supermarket, hotel and petrol station alongside the existing shops.

The Tesco development, which includes an 80,000sq ft store with parking and a new library, will create 400 jobs.

The scheme at Castle Dene, proposed by shopping centre owners Salford Estates, includes an 86,000sq ft store, a new youth centre and health centre and will create 500 jobs.

Meanwhile, at Dalton Park, there will be 630 retail jobs created, as well as 100 construction jobs.

Durham County Councillor Audrey Laing, who represents Peterlee East, spoke during the meeting to support the Castle Dene development.

After the meeting, she told the Mail: “I’m absolutely delighted.

“Our town centre needs to be brought into the 21st Century.

“The plans for the associated developments like the health centre and youth centre have been submitted, I’m over the moon.”

During the meeting, Mark Harrison, founder of Salford Estates’ parent company Praxis Holdings, said any developments outside the town centre would result in the “slow and painful destruction of Peterlee town centre”.

But councillors approved three of the four schemes, with Morrisons losing out after council officers argued the Tesco site was closer to the Castle Dene centre and could work hand-in-hand with the shopping centre.

Tesco’s corporate affairs manager Doug Wilson, who spoke at the meeting, told the Mail: “We are delighted that Durham County councillors have approved our proposal for a new Tesco and library.

“As well as creating more than 400 jobs it will revitalise the town centre and provide shoppers with competition and a fantastic choice of food as well as the range of other products found in Tesco stores.”

During the meeting, Mike Ralph, agent for the North Blunts/Morrisons scheme, which would have brought 350 jobs, said his supermarket would have been a “positive development for Peterlee” that could have competed with the current Asda without having a detrimental impact on town centre trade.