A NEW retail park could open in Durham next year after plans were given the green light by county bosses.

Permission had been sought to overhaul the current Elddis Business Park, in Finchale Road, Framwellgate Moor, replacing it with a discount supermarket, homewares store and cafe.

Durham County Council’s development department had recommended approval for the scheme, which it was claimed would create jobs and improve consumer choice, as well as ‘strengthening the business operation’ of haulage firm Elddis Transport, the site’s current owner.

But concerns were raised over the sustainability of the proposals, as well as the impact on traffic and parking in the area.

“Within walking distance of this site we have what was once the largest housing estate in Europe, the headquarters of Northumbrian Water and the Arnison Centre,” said Liberal Democrat opposition councillor Amanda Hopgood.

“We’re trying to say this is something people will walk to, but the nature of the shopping discourages walking.

“There’s very few people who walk to a frozen food store or get the bus back with bags full of frozen food.

“This lends itself to a car-orientated development – you don’t let people walk through a drive through.”

Businessiq:

Cllr Hopgood was speaking at yesterday morning’s (Wednesday, July 1) meeting of the council’s County Planning Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

Supermarket chain the Co-op, which has two stores within about 1 km of the site, was also among objectors, complaining about potential loss of businesses.

But this argument was largely rejected by the county council’s planning department.

Jonathan Wallace, a senior manager at planning consultancy Lichfields, acting for applicant Wyngrove, claimed the scheme could instead help the ‘post-COVID economic recovery in County Durham’.

And Nigel Cook, managing director at Eldiss Transport, said funds from the scheme could help his firm, which employs 260 people in the North East.

He said: “We’ve owned the site since the 1970s, but use of the site has reduced and we no longer need it.

“For a number of years we’ve let out buildings on the site to other businesses, but they’re at a point where significant expenditure is needed or a complete redevelopment.”

The committee voted ten to four in favour of approving the planning application, subject to a final review by the government.