IT looks like the road to nowhere – but regeneration chiefs are forging ahead with plans which will turn this dead end into a hub for business.
The infrastructure of Hawthorn Prestige Business Park is now complete after the construction of phase one of the East Durham Link Road and efforts are under way to attract firms to set up operations on the estate.
In addition to bringing jobs, the park could also improve transport connections, with a second phase of the road, which would lead on to the B1285 near Murton Lane on the outskirts of Hetton, to go ahead should funds become available.
The former Hawthorn coke site, on land behind Dalton Park and Murton’s Wembley Estate, has also been earmarked as a key location in the second part of the North East’s Local Enterprise Partnership zone, which plans to develop the region’s low carbon energy industry.
The first phase was approved by the Government last month, with a total of 11,000 jobs to be created from Blyth to the East Durham site in coming decades if it is a success.
Ahead of construction at Hawthorn, regeneration officers have applied for a variation of a condition agreed in 2007 which said it had until 2012 to install signals at the A182 junction at Cold Hesldon.
A new application asks for the signals to be put in based on the level of traffic growth caused by the nearby developments.
In addition to the industrial estate, this could include the Centre for Creative Excellence media village at Dawdon, the Network Space plan for homes and businesses next to Fairfield Park and phase two of Dalton Park, which includes a cinema, supermarket, petrol station, restaurants, hotel and a pub.
All three schemes have planning permission.
Peter Coe, the council’s strategic investments manager, said the proposals for the enterprise zone could offer businesses incentives to locate their operations at Hawthorn if they fit green manufacturing or carbon reduction criteria.
He added: “We have applied to extend planning permission for the traffic signals as this work will only need to take place once the site is occupied.
“Similarly, work on the second phase of the link road will only progress once the site is in use.”