BUSINESSES have given plans for a £24million leisure park a mixed welcome.
Shops in Church Street, Seaham, are divided over the phase two development of nearby Dalton Park in Murton, which promises 500-plus jobs, a supermarket, five-screen cinema, restaurants, hotel and petrol station.
The outline plan for the scheme was approved at the same time as a new Tesco Extra superstore and another supermarket at Castle Dene shopping centre, both in Peterlee.
A total of 1,400 new jobs are promised by the schemes.
The application for Dalton Park was approved by councillors despite advice from officers to turn it down because of concerns it would have a negative impact and divert trade away from nearby town centres.
In Seaham’s Church Street, businesses gave the news both a warm and cold reception.
Those in support of the development agreed efforts must be made to signpost people to visit Seaham and other attractions.
Steph Guidi, boss of Crazy Clearance discount store, said: “I think it will bring more people in. It’s great for the area.
“I think people will come in to Seaham because it’s not that far away.”
Abigail Young, who works in Gifts North East and lives in Seaham, said: “The nearest cinema is Sunderland and that takes people out of the area.
“I would go up to Dalton Park to use that, but I would still shop in Seaham because its closer.”
Workers at Pennywise think it will pull trade away.
“It will bring people in, but it won’t make people come into Church Street. They will just toddle off up there,” said Susan Cambridge.
She added: “Murton residents aren’t going to come in to Seaham now.”
The original plan for Dalton Park’s expansion did not include any retail developments, only leisure, with a bowling alley and car showroom suggested.
However, its owners said a supermarket was needed to make the rest of the scheme a reality, leading to objections from the firms behind the three other shop plans.
John Calvert, who runs family electrical firm Calverts in Seaham, said: “As far as Dalton Park is concerned I think it started off as a discount outlet.
“They have changed it by the back door.
“But having said that I read last week Asda was objecting and it’s got an absolute nerve considering what they have done to this town.
“Building a supermarket at Dalton Park is not going to affect Church Street now.
“It’s very difficult. All high streets are having the same problem.”
He added that landlords and councils should help by offering deals on rates to attract businesses to open up in empty shops, which would draw in more traders and shoppers.