‘Not big enough for two stores’

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SHOPPING centre bosses who lodged an application to build a new food store have hit out after planning permission was given to two other supermarket giants.

Durham County Council’s planning committee granted permission for Salford Estates to build an 86,000 sq-ft supermarket at Castle Dene Shopping Centre in Peterlee.

Planners also gave the go-ahead to an 80,000 sq-ft store to be built on land at the former East Durham College site, in the town’s Burnhope Way, during a planning meeting in June.

The green light was also given to an extension to Dalton Park, in Murton, which includes a new cinema, supermarket, hotel and petrol station alongside existing shops, despite planning officers recommending its refusal.

Salford Estates have only just released a statement, saying they are “dismayed and shocked” by the planners’ decision to approve the two other developments.

During June’s 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”.

Today, a Salford Estates spokeswoman said: “Durham Council’s decision to approve two additional competing out-of-centre foodstore applications has left us dismayed and shocked. 

“It has always been stated by Asda, as the principal town centre food retailer, our retail and planning advisors, and Tesco in attempting to justify their own store, that there is only room in Peterlee for one additional foodstore to serve the town. 

“The threat resulting from the approved large format foodstores is the single most important issue facing the people who work and rely on the services in the town centre.”

The spokeswoman said the company felt it had been “forced into a position where we need to pursue all options open to protect our plans for the town centre”.

The spokeswoman would not reveal what the “options” were, but added: “The competing permissions jeopardise the long-term future of Castle Dene’s existing traders and threaten the long-term vitality of Peterlee as a place to shop and visit.”

She added that the development, which also includes a new health centre and youth centre “cannot be secured” with the threat of two other large out of centre foodstores having been approved.

Durham County Councillor Pauline Charlton, vice-chairman of the council’s planning committee, said: “The planning committee made what they thought was best the decision at the time, after deliberating over all the evidence provided.”

Tesco corporate affairs manager Doug Wilson said Tesco’s commitment to investing in the town, providing jobs and better value and choice for shoppers remains unaffected by the approval of the other developments.

A spokesman for Dalton Park owners ING said its plans do not threaten the delivery of a new store in Peterlee as evidence shows Dalton Park is a “separate issue” to the debate about supermarkets in Peterlee.