Green light for leisure proposal

A LEISURE development which could generate 500 jobs has hit more problems over a continuing legal wrangle.

Dalton Park was given the go-head for its £24million extension by councillors in June last year, after the Government decided not to call in the out-of-town development for further consideration.

However, it has been on hold after a rival firm launched calls for a judicial review into the decision to approve the second phase of the centre.

Praxis, which owns the Castle Dene shopping centre in Peterlee and has approval for its own supermarket, wants to scupper the plans for the Murton site, which include a supermarket, five-screen cinema, restaurants, a non-food shop, hotel, pub and petrol station.

A judge has refused Praxis permission for a judicial review, but the company has now asked for a full hearing into how Durham County Council came to approve the Dalton Park development.

It said it is fighting to protect its businesses in Peterlee town centre, as it does not believe there is enough trade to satisfy all the new supermarkets and existing stores in the area.

David Taylor, the council’s legal services manager for property and planning, said: “We can confirm that Praxis has been refused permission to proceed with its challenge to granting of planning permission for an extension at Dalton Park.

“Praxis has informed us that it will be exercising its right to request a full hearing with the judge to ask him to reconsider.

“A date will now be arranged when the judge will hear arguments from Praxis and the council before deciding whether or not the challenge should proceed further.”

ING, which owns Dalton Park, said it had nothing to add.

A spokesman for Salford Estates, which is the arm of Praxis, said: “We are appealing against the decision-making process of Durham County Council’s Planning Committee as it has not followed correct procedure in making this knee-jerk decision.

“On behalf of the shopkeepers of Peterlee, we will continue to fight to overturn the wholly irrational and unfair decision to allow an out-of-town superstore at Dalton Park.”

Praxis has previously come under fire from Easington MP Grahame Morris for holding up the Dalton Park plans.