Plans on show for £24million leisure park

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THE latest proposal for a £24million leisure park have gone on show as bosses prepare to overcome what could be one its last hurdles.

The second phase of development at Dalton Park in Murton was given planning permission 16 months ago, but has suffered the latest in a run of set backs because a rival firm took issue with the planners’ approval of the scheme.

A judicial review into Durham County Council’s decision to back the 500-job scheme was sparked by the owners of Castle Dene shopping centre in Peterlee, and is expected in coming months.

A similar hearing, held after Praxis raised concerns about the council’s handling of Tesco’s plans for the former East Durham College site in Peterlee and the impact it could have on its own plans, rejected the claims last month.

Praxis believes an out of town site would damage Peterlee town centre and says there is not enough trade for all three food stores to survive.

But while the outcome of the next court case is pending, the owners of Dalton Park hope to gather the views on updated proposals it has put together so that it can press on with gaining approval on detailed plans if the legal challenge is thrown out.

The latest designs continue to feature a supermarket, a petrol station, cinema, restaurants, hotel and a pub, and could now also feature a non-food shop.

A spokesman for Dalton Park said it is working with commercial and retail property developer on a new planning application.

He added: “We are in advanced discussions with operators for all the proposed uses.

“The application will enable the scheme to come forward next year given the indefinite delays to the approved scheme due to the legal challenge.

“The previous scheme had significant support from the local community and the council.”

The exhibition will be on show at the shopping outlet until Monday, November 5.

The legal action by Praxis, which owns the Castle Dene site under its Salford Estates portfolio and could create 500 jobs under its own plans, has been slammed by Easington MP Grahame Morris for holding back millions of pounds worth of private investment into the area.

The three schemes were hit by a series of delays before they reached the planning meeting, which backed the Tesco and Praxis proposals, rejected a plan by Morrison for a site at North Blunts, and went against planning officers’ recommendations to support the Dalton Park expansion.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham