PLANS to create up to 1,000 jobs in a North East unemployment blackspot could finally be given the go-ahead next month.
Durham County Council planners were due to decide a year ago whether to approve to an extension to Dalton Park shopping centre at Murton near, Seaham, creating 550 jobs.
They were also set to discuss proposals for a new Tesco, seven miles away, at Peterlee, creating a further 400 jobs.
Talks, however, repeatedly stalled.
Yesterday a county council spokeswoman said the applications had been listed again for discussion on June 7, although further delays could not be ruled out.
ING Real Estates, the owners of Dalton Park, just off the A19, want to invest £24m on Phase Two of the popular shopping centre and applied to the county council to build a five-screen cinema, hotel, pub, supermarket and restaurants on an underused part of the site, which they say would create 550 new jobs.
Supporters of the scheme say they have already benefited by the opening of Dalton Park seven years ago, since when, 500 people have been taken on.
However, slow progress has brought criticism of county council planners of “dragging their heels” over the issue.
At the same meeting planners are to decide whether to give the go-ahead to a Tesco store, 18 months after the supermarket giant announced their intention.
Durham County Council issued a statement last month saying: “The complex submissions, which must be considered side by side, were pushed back last month in the light of fresh last-minute information. Now further submissions mean it will be June before the planning committee can properly consider its decision.”
The council’s head of planning, Stuart Timmiss, said the delay was “frustrating but unavoidable”.
He added: “At the end of the day we want to see these applications resolved as quickly as possible, to get the right facilities and jobs into the county.
“However, we need to balance this with the need to ensure that we do not jeopardise any decision with challenges which ultimately slow down the process longer term. Having taken legal advice it is with regret that the only option open is to delay these applications. All parties concerned have been contacted to inform them of the situation and I have every hope this will now be considered by the committee in June.”
Should both proposals go ahead, almost 1,000 new jobs would be created in East Durham, an area devastated by pit closures almost 20 years ago.