PLANNERS have given the go-ahead for the multimillion-pound expansion of Dalton Park.
The £24million scheme to build a supermarket, five-screen cinema, restaurants, hotel and petrol station at the site in Murton was approved by members of Durham County Council’s county planning committee in June.
But the project – hit by a series of delays before it was finally put before councillors – was again on hold as the Government gave it further consideration.
Now the Department of Communities and Local Government has decided the phase two scheme can plough ahead.
The extension to the shopping centre is predicted to bring 500 new jobs to the area and give East Durham an economic boost.
David Alker from ING, which owns the park, said: “We are obviously very pleased that the Secretary of State has decided not to intervene in the planning application for phase two of Dalton Park.
“We hope now to be able to be able to secure the planning permission in line with the wishes of Durham County Council’s planning committee, Grahame Morris MP, the local ward councillors and the local community and move a step closer to delivering the much needed new investment and jobs in the Easington area.”
Mr Morris, who joined the thousands of supporters to back the plan, believes the leisure businesses, first suggested when the shopping centre was given the go ahead in 2000, will encourage people to visit the region.
He added: “I’m delighted the hard-work and dedication of residents, local businesses and councillors has succeeded in securing the vital jobs and investment for East Durham during extremely challenging economic times.”
He added his congratulations to ward members councillors Alan Napier and Alice Naylor and those who supported the project.
Campaigner Michael Walton, who lives in Murton and runs the Fox and Hounds pub in Hetton, said: “It’s just absolutely fabulous news for the area. It’s much needed and much awaited and now we look forward to this development moving on.”
Officers had recommended members refuse the Dalton Park plan because of concerns on the impact on traffic and Seaham’s trade.
A plan to build a Tesco on the former East Durham College site off Essington Way and Burnhope Way and a supermarket linked to the Castle Dene shopping centre, both in Peterlee, were also approved at the same time.
An application to build a Morrisons at North Blunts in the town was turned down.