Plea to pitch in with store plan

How the Morrison's store would look.
How the Morrison's store would look.
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A TOWN is being urged to back plans for a new supermarket – despite opposition from council officers.

Durham County Council’s planning committee will next week be recommended to approve two planing applications for supermarkets in Peterlee – but turn down a third.

Salford Estates has applied for outline permission to demolish existing buildings at the Castle Dene Shopping Centre and replace them with a food store and car park.

Meanwhile, Tesco wants to build a store with a replacement library on the former East Durham and Houghall Community College site in Burnhope Way.

Officers are recommending both schemes are granted when they are considered on Tuesday.

But an application that would see a Morrisons supermarket built on the site of the former North Blunts Primary School, in Tweed Close, is set to get the thumbs-down.

Officers are recommending councillors refuse the application because it is too far out and the other two sites are closer to the town centre.

“The site is situated outside the established town centre of Peterlee,” says the report. “It is considered that other sequentially preferable sites exist that would be more appropriate.”

The supermarket chain said it did not accept the plan would have a detrimental effect on Peterlee town centre and rejecting the proposal would mean the loss of up to 350 new jobs, as well as new sport facilities which are part of the redevelopment package.

Andrew Cooper, development executive, said: “The local support for the scheme has been unbelievable and we are very disappointed that it is not being supported by the officers. It is a scheme which is immediately deliverable and will bring real benefits to Peterlee.

“We are predominantly a food store and Morrisons limited non-food range would be the perfect fit for Peterlee, increasing choice and competition for the main food shop without impacting on the town centre’s existing shops and services.

“In our view, this site is the most suitable for Peterlee.

“Not only will we be creating career opportunities and new housing, we aim to provide regeneration through sport by improving much-needed sports pitches.”

The scheme includes relocated and improved rugby pitches at Helford Road, improved football facilities at Eden Lane and 51 new homes on the Itec site.

Mr Cooper added: “This multi-million pound ‘package’ of benefits is exclusive to the Morrisons plans and will not go ahead if we are unsuccessful, something we feel will be to the detriment of Peterlee.

“However, it is not the planning officers that make the final decision, it is down to the members of Durham’s County Planning Committee and we would appeal to them to look at the substantial benefits of our scheme, particularly when compared with the other schemes being considered.”

Peterlee Pumas treasurer Rob Laverick and Peterlee FC chairman Les Measor urged residents to back the plans.

Mr Laverick said: “We have a desperate need for extra training grounds for our youth teams so the sooner it is built the sooner they can train on them.”