PLANS for a multi-million pound business park in County Durham have been approved.

Durham County Council is funding the construction of seven speculative units, comprising of 155,000 sq ft, at Jade Business Park, in Murton, in east Durham.

Planning permission for the scheme, which is estimated will directly create 260 full time jobs, was granted by the council's county planning committee at a meeting yesterday.

The nine-month construction period on the site, which is next to the A19 and Dalton Park, is meant to start in August.

Councillor Alan Napier, deputy leader of Durham County Council said: “This is great news for East Durham and the region. Jade Business Park is one of our key strategic employment sites, bringing thousands of new jobs and the associated economic boost to the county.

“We have been working on the development for several years and it’s really exciting to see our long held aspiration becoming a reality as part of our wider plans for the regeneration of the east of the county and the A19 corridor."

This is the first phase of development of the 55-acre site, which has the potential for up to 750,000 sq ft of space for offices, large scale manufacturing and distribution tenants.

The council, which owns the site, says the development could create more than 2,500 jobs.

The authority has formed a partnership with Highbridge Properties, which is the developer at Cobalt in North Tyneside, which is the UK's largest office park.

Guy Marsden, director at Highbridge Properties, said: “Getting the green light for this major inward investment site provides a huge boost to the local economy and employment market.

"Jade Business Park is a new generation enterprise zone which is highly attractive for business, occupiers and investors as it offers tailored solutions and government support packages to meet their individual’s needs.

"All of this, combined with a location that offers fast access to the motorway network, good public transport links and ample parking available on site makes Jade a very compelling place to do business.”

The site will be managed by Business Durham, the economic development arm of the council.

Managing director Brian Archer said: “Receiving planning approval is fantastic news and means that we can now proceed with the building of these industrial units. They will be of particular interest for companies working in the thriving supply chains of major firms in the advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors. The position of this site is perfect for access to the A19, the ports, airport and train stations so should appeal to a wide range of businesses.”

The road leading directly from the site to the A19 has already been completed with £14m of funding from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) and the Highways Agency.

The park will become a designated enterprise zone which will enable tenants moving into the units once complete to apply for business rate relief up to £275,000.