‘Keep trade in town centre’

SHOPPING centre chiefs today pleaded “keep trade in the town centre” as a war of words intensified.

Four rival proposals go head-to-head when they are considered by Durham County Council tomorrow – each of them hoping to get the go-ahead for huge new retail schemes in or near Peterlee.

The owners of Peterlee’s Castle Dene shopping centre say it should be their plan for a new supermarket which should be given the green light.

Tomorrow’s meeting will consider projects by Tesco, North Blunts and ING, the owners of Dalton Park as well as plans for a new supermarket submitted by Castle Dene’s owners Salford Estates, whose spokeswoman Debbie Illingworth said the “potentially vibrant town centre” needed to be supported against out-of-town rivals.

She added: “Peterlee and its surrounds can only accommodate one new food store and it is clear that it should be at Castle Dene so trade is drawn into the town centre and not away from it.”

The town centre proposals include a new supermarket and car park linked into the southern side of the existing shopping centre. Together with the existing Asda store, the proposals would create strong “retail anchors” at each side of the Peterlee town centre, says Ms Illingworth.

Centre owners say this is the only way to improve and invest in the town centre, as bringing more people into Peterlee will attract new retailers to the town.

Without this stimulus further investment and improvements cannot be made, they add.

Ms Illingworth said: “Supporting the only town centre application will bring sustainable and long term benefits to Peterlee, including much needed additional jobs.”

Other benefits of the proposals include plans to relocate a nearby health centre and a youth centre to create new start-of-the-art facilities.

As well as the Salford Estates proposal, the others to be considered include North Blunts, which wants to build a Morrisons supermarket on the site of the former North Blunts Primary School, in Burnhope Way; Tesco who wants to build a new store on the site of the former East Durham College, also in Burnhope Way; and proposals for an extension at Dalton Park, at Murton.