Site clean-up is a ‘token measure’ says Peterlee councillor

The derelict Peterlee College.
The derelict Peterlee College.

A COUNCILLOR says a supermarket giant cleaning up a derelict college earmarked for a store is “only a token measure”.

A raft of maintenance measures by Tesco are underway at the former East Durham College site,in Burnhope Way, Peterlee.

The improvements at the site – given planning permission in 2011 for a Tesco store – include cutting grass to ground level, reshaping all shrubs and clearing ash and weeds, pruning shrubs, comprehensive litter picks, cleaning the car park and removal of all green waste and litter.

But Peterlee town councillor Andrew Watson, of the Free And Independent Representation (FAIR) Party, said if no progress is made he will inquire about a compulsory purchase order to demolish the building.

He said: “The current old college building is an unsafe, derelict eyesore, it brings the whole town down.

“Cutting the grass and pruning a few shrubs is only a token measure. Tesco appear to be avoiding answering Peterlee residents’ and business owners’ concerns.

“Other local areas such as Seaham and Hartlepool are getting investment while Peterlee is left to decay.

“Tesco need to give a firm committment on what they plan to build and when they intend to build it, or if they intend to sell off the land for housing as they are doing so in other areas.”

Tesco plan to downsize their plans, due to “customer spending habits”, but Coun Watson said this could be a “stalling” tactic.

He said: “If Tesco continue to fail to give any firm assurances I will be contacting Durham County Council to ask if a compulsary purchase order could be sought to demolish the building, clean up and make the area safe.”

Tesco spokesman Mark Thomas said the firm was grateful for the support of many in the community.

He added that development had been paused, while future options are considered, including a smaller store, due to changing shopping habits.