A SHOPPING centre’s fight to draw in visitors has been won almost a decade after it was launched.
More than 20 brown signs are now going up on the A19 and other routes leading to Dalton Park in Murton.
After years of trying, bosses at the shopping centre have finally persuaded highways chiefs that the site is a tourist destination.
The first application to Durham County Council and the Highways Agency was made in 2003, shortly after it opened.
Since then, the outlet has gone on to attract almost 3million visitors each year and begun to host events including community and leisure activities.
It has also satisfied the criteria which led to the signs being given the go ahead. Among the specifications met are the centre’s free parking for cars and coaches, free use of toilets, parklands and membership of a tourism organisation, in this case Visit County Durham.
The centre has also recently welcomed an interactive information point where people can find out details about tourist attractions and services.
Jerry Hatch, who manages the centre, said: “From research we know one of the most popular pastimes is shopping.
“Now we have got these brown signs, people will be able to see the difference between us and the black and white signs.
“We’ve had customers request them and they helped support the application because they wrote letters asking for the signs to help them.
“Sometimes people have driven past and have said they’ve been looking out for the brown signs and said when they go to McArthurGlen shopping outlet near York they see the brown signs on the way and they expect the same here.
“Brown signage gives us the important directional support we need and will be of enormous help to our many visitors and coach drivers touring the area.”
Mr Hatch added that he is to get in touch with those who have written letters calling for the signs to update them on the project.
The notices, most of which are already in place, are attached to existing road signs.