Controversial St Helen Auckland shopping park is offically opened

A £14M shopping complex which critics fear will destroy a nearby town centre has officially opened creating more than 120 jobs.

The St Helen Auckland shopping park was vehemently opposed by traders and residents of nearby Bishop Auckland as well as Durham County Council’s planning officer who said it would drag businesses from the beleaguered town centre.

But supporters of the park say it is the latest stage of St Helen Auckland’s transformation from derelict factory land to bustling business and shopping hub.

Six of the eight units, which have been built on the site of a former DIY store that became a magnet for arsonists and anti-social behaviour, are now trading with Poundland expected to arrive in March.

Brantano, Pets At Home, Boots and Costa all opened before Christmas but the park owners Metric Properties decided to wait until Marks And Spencer and Next moved in before holding the official opening ceremony.

Lord Derek Foster, a former MP for Bishop Auckland, opened the site today (Friday, January 25) said: “It is great to see such premier league retailers investing here, bringing jobs and adding to the choices available to local shoppers.”

West Auckland county councilors Rob Yorke and Andy turner welcomed the opening.

Councillor Yorke said: “If we offer choice people will stay and we can once again create a vibrant shopping base, we must build on this over the next couple of years and exploit the true potential of what could come from Auckland Castle and the Weardale Railway.”

Plans to expand the Park from the existing 49,000 square feet to 76,000 square feet have been approved and an application has been submitted for a multi-screen cinema complex with shops and restaurants on nearby waste land.

Comments (25)

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5:55pm Fri 25 Jan 13

pilchrat says...

Ah yes the controversy ... which only exists in the paper's headlines. Everyone I know is up for all of this, hardly controversial. Or have you guys been interviewing the only three people in town who are against it?
Ah yes the controversy ... which only exists in the paper's headlines. Everyone I know is up for all of this, hardly controversial. Or have you guys been interviewing the only three people in town who are against it? pilchrat

8:26pm Fri 25 Jan 13

Voice-of-reality says...

You forget, Councillor Zair is concerned because he may get less custom in his cafe.
You forget, Councillor Zair is concerned because he may get less custom in his cafe. Voice-of-reality

8:27pm Fri 25 Jan 13

Voice-of-reality says...

The report is also wrong - only the final stage of the development was opposed by plannign officials - the first stages were welcomed by them. Do try to keep up NEs journalists; otherwise only the 'free press' becknons for you.
The report is also wrong - only the final stage of the development was opposed by plannign officials - the first stages were welcomed by them. Do try to keep up NEs journalists; otherwise only the 'free press' becknons for you. Voice-of-reality

9:10pm Fri 25 Jan 13

pilchrat says...

Haha yes, Voice-of-reality, I forgot about Councillor Zair. Mind you, he's strangely quiet of late.

Also, the "planning submission" for the cinema isn't anywhere to be seen on the Council's website ... a whole month and a bit after it was supposed to have been submitted.
Haha yes, Voice-of-reality, I forgot about Councillor Zair. Mind you, he's strangely quiet of late. Also, the "planning submission" for the cinema isn't anywhere to be seen on the Council's website ... a whole month and a bit after it was supposed to have been submitted. pilchrat

9:21pm Fri 25 Jan 13

Voice-of-reality says...

One notes that Councillor Zair never complains when Costa, Starbucks, or Domino's Pizza gives notice of intending to open at St Helen's - whatever could be the reason for his not grumbling that such operations are choosing not to open in Bishop...
One notes that Councillor Zair never complains when Costa, Starbucks, or Domino's Pizza gives notice of intending to open at St Helen's - whatever could be the reason for his not grumbling that such operations are choosing not to open in Bishop... Voice-of-reality

9:23pm Fri 25 Jan 13

Voice-of-reality says...

If the cinema could be opened without serving popcorn - I am sure that a certain councillor would suggest that the premises vacated by McDonalds would be a better site
If the cinema could be opened without serving popcorn - I am sure that a certain councillor would suggest that the premises vacated by McDonalds would be a better site Voice-of-reality

10:36pm Fri 25 Jan 13

John Justice says...

Councillor Yorke recognises the true "potential" that can come from Auckland Castle and Weardale Railway. You have to give him full marks for completely ignoring Bishop Auckland and any other potential local historical sites and business around the town that could make a contribution to the St Helens shopping complex. Escomb Church, Binchester Roman Fort, Stan Laurel, Shildons historic link to the birth of the railway. etc etc. He really needs to get a grasp of local history so he can fully exploit the potential of the St Helens Retail Park. Who needs Bishop Auckland town centre anyway?
Just imagine, thousands upon thousands of people across the region and the country visiting Auckland Castle when really they want to shop at St Helens Retail Park. I have nothing against the Retail Park. My wife prefers it to the dismal aura of Bishop Auckland town centre and the newly appointed traffic wardens waiting to welcome her with a £60.00 parking fine for a minor parking transgression while she walks past a gaping hole and a boarded up former Marks and Spencer store on her way to Boots The Chemist. ****, I forgot to tell her they have opened a branch on the retail park.!!!!
Councillor Yorke recognises the true "potential" that can come from Auckland Castle and Weardale Railway. You have to give him full marks for completely ignoring Bishop Auckland and any other potential local historical sites and business around the town that could make a contribution to the St Helens shopping complex. Escomb Church, Binchester Roman Fort, Stan Laurel, Shildons historic link to the birth of the railway. etc etc. He really needs to get a grasp of local history so he can fully exploit the potential of the St Helens Retail Park. Who needs Bishop Auckland town centre anyway? Just imagine, thousands upon thousands of people across the region and the country visiting Auckland Castle when really they want to shop at St Helens Retail Park. I have nothing against the Retail Park. My wife prefers it to the dismal aura of Bishop Auckland town centre and the newly appointed traffic wardens waiting to welcome her with a £60.00 parking fine for a minor parking transgression while she walks past a gaping hole and a boarded up former Marks and Spencer store on her way to Boots The Chemist. ****, I forgot to tell her they have opened a branch on the retail park.!!!! John Justice

10:58pm Fri 25 Jan 13

John Justice says...

I apologise about my above posting. I forgot to mention Lord Derek Foster, former LABOUR MP for Bishop Auckland. I must congratulate him for the success he has brought to the out of town development after all of his years representing Bishop Auckland. Our present incumbent Labour MP is building on his hard work representing the impoverished poor, the closing of our Accident and Emergency dept, the transfer of our Special Care Baby Unit, the down grading of our local hospital, the transfer of EBAC to Newton Aycliffe what happened to REMPLOY by the way?.( I forgot, we can blame that one one the present government ) and more importantly......the hole in the wall in Newgate Street.
By the way, I am non political, lived in Bishop Auckland for over 40 yrs and love the area.
I apologise about my above posting. I forgot to mention Lord Derek Foster, former LABOUR MP for Bishop Auckland. I must congratulate him for the success he has brought to the out of town development after all of his years representing Bishop Auckland. Our present incumbent Labour MP is building on his hard work representing the impoverished poor, the closing of our Accident and Emergency dept, the transfer of our Special Care Baby Unit, the down grading of our local hospital, the transfer of EBAC to Newton Aycliffe what happened to REMPLOY by the way?.( I forgot, we can blame that one one the present government ) and more importantly......the hole in the wall in Newgate Street. By the way, I am non political, lived in Bishop Auckland for over 40 yrs and love the area. John Justice

9:05am Sat 26 Jan 13

Better bishop says...

The new retail park is great and long overdue. No more trips to Darlington or teeside. Why would anyone object to this development, every day I drive past the car park is always full and with phase two starting in march Its only going to attract more people. I hope the cinema is developed too and we'd have everything. I can't understand the town councillors attitude it just seems events always seem to overtake them. Does anyone know if if they have plans for the town?
The new retail park is great and long overdue. No more trips to Darlington or teeside. Why would anyone object to this development, every day I drive past the car park is always full and with phase two starting in march Its only going to attract more people. I hope the cinema is developed too and we'd have everything. I can't understand the town councillors attitude it just seems events always seem to overtake them. Does anyone know if if they have plans for the town? Better bishop

9:23am Sat 26 Jan 13

Bishop Newbie says...

Since becoming a Bishop resident three years ago the ongoing developments in Bishop Auckland are fantastic...It seems that this town has definitely grasped the future of shopping... I must admit there has been a decline in the shops in the town centre but what makes Bishop Auckland different from any other town or City in the UK? Every high street is suffering, nearly half of Sunderland's high street shops are running empty and along with Seaham & Newton Aycliffe.... The New Bishop Auckland Retail Park sums up what people & high street business want, free parking modern easy accessible units & more choice.
Well done to the movers and shakers of this fantastic modern development anyone who thinks it's a bad thing must be crackers. As for the town centre management I think the time has come to start focusing on alternatives to high street retailers, perhaps a residential development in the town making Newgate street the centre of a new community.
P.S a few designated market stalls would be nice to attract a market trader!!
Since becoming a Bishop resident three years ago the ongoing developments in Bishop Auckland are fantastic...It seems that this town has definitely grasped the future of shopping... I must admit there has been a decline in the shops in the town centre but what makes Bishop Auckland different from any other town or City in the UK? Every high street is suffering, nearly half of Sunderland's high street shops are running empty and along with Seaham & Newton Aycliffe.... The New Bishop Auckland Retail Park sums up what people & high street business want, free parking modern easy accessible units & more choice. Well done to the movers and shakers of this fantastic modern development anyone who thinks it's a bad thing must be crackers. As for the town centre management I think the time has come to start focusing on alternatives to high street retailers, perhaps a residential development in the town making Newgate street the centre of a new community. P.S a few designated market stalls would be nice to attract a market trader!! Bishop Newbie

3:11pm Sat 26 Jan 13

bishop1 says...

Bishop Newbie wrote:
Since becoming a Bishop resident three years ago the ongoing developments in Bishop Auckland are fantastic...It seems that this town has definitely grasped the future of shopping... I must admit there has been a decline in the shops in the town centre but what makes Bishop Auckland different from any other town or City in the UK? Every high street is suffering, nearly half of Sunderland's high street shops are running empty and along with Seaham & Newton Aycliffe.... The New Bishop Auckland Retail Park sums up what people & high street business want, free parking modern easy accessible units & more choice.
Well done to the movers and shakers of this fantastic modern development anyone who thinks it's a bad thing must be crackers. As for the town centre management I think the time has come to start focusing on alternatives to high street retailers, perhaps a residential development in the town making Newgate street the centre of a new community.
P.S a few designated market stalls would be nice to attract a market trader!!
couldn't have put it better myself , nothing to complain about
[quote][p][bold]Bishop Newbie[/bold] wrote: Since becoming a Bishop resident three years ago the ongoing developments in Bishop Auckland are fantastic...It seems that this town has definitely grasped the future of shopping... I must admit there has been a decline in the shops in the town centre but what makes Bishop Auckland different from any other town or City in the UK? Every high street is suffering, nearly half of Sunderland's high street shops are running empty and along with Seaham & Newton Aycliffe.... The New Bishop Auckland Retail Park sums up what people & high street business want, free parking modern easy accessible units & more choice. Well done to the movers and shakers of this fantastic modern development anyone who thinks it's a bad thing must be crackers. As for the town centre management I think the time has come to start focusing on alternatives to high street retailers, perhaps a residential development in the town making Newgate street the centre of a new community. P.S a few designated market stalls would be nice to attract a market trader!![/p][/quote]couldn't have put it better myself , nothing to complain about bishop1

6:50pm Sat 26 Jan 13

Voice-of-reality says...

This is the sort of writer who should stand for election - a series of sensible views eloquently put and prepared to think 'outside the box'.
This is the sort of writer who should stand for election - a series of sensible views eloquently put and prepared to think 'outside the box'. Voice-of-reality

7:00pm Sat 26 Jan 13

bishops_man says...

Couldn't agree more, the best thing to happen in the town for years. The councillors are just so out of touch.
A minor critisism though, probably not enough parking spaces. I couldnt get parked at all this morning, had to park in Tesco's and walk across. I know its only yards but I don't think Tesco's would be happy in using their car park.
Couldn't agree more, the best thing to happen in the town for years. The councillors are just so out of touch. A minor critisism though, probably not enough parking spaces. I couldnt get parked at all this morning, had to park in Tesco's and walk across. I know its only yards but I don't think Tesco's would be happy in using their car park. bishops_man

7:33pm Sat 26 Jan 13

rat man says...

bishops_man wrote:
Couldn't agree more, the best thing to happen in the town for years. The councillors are just so out of touch.
A minor critisism though, probably not enough parking spaces. I couldnt get parked at all this morning, had to park in Tesco's and walk across. I know its only yards but I don't think Tesco's would be happy in using their car park.
Well at least the free parking spaces at St Helens were cleared of snow. The Council pay car park at Tenter St. was a disgrace. May I suggest that the traffic wardens do something useful at this time of the year, like clear the car parks of snow, then they could claim .some moral right to ticket non payers
[quote][p][bold]bishops_man[/bold] wrote: Couldn't agree more, the best thing to happen in the town for years. The councillors are just so out of touch. A minor critisism though, probably not enough parking spaces. I couldnt get parked at all this morning, had to park in Tesco's and walk across. I know its only yards but I don't think Tesco's would be happy in using their car park.[/p][/quote]Well at least the free parking spaces at St Helens were cleared of snow. The Council pay car park at Tenter St. was a disgrace. May I suggest that the traffic wardens do something useful at this time of the year, like clear the car parks of snow, then they could claim .some moral right to ticket non payers rat man

12:32am Sun 27 Jan 13

hippyjohn says...

Created 120 jobs? These jobs have been lost in Newqate Street.. Bishop Auckland town centre is now dead. the cinema complex has been dangled from the very start but has never materialised yet
Created 120 jobs? These jobs have been lost in Newqate Street.. Bishop Auckland town centre is now dead. the cinema complex has been dangled from the very start but has never materialised yet hippyjohn

8:57am Sun 27 Jan 13

Better bishop says...

hippyjohn wrote:
Created 120 jobs? These jobs have been lost in Newqate Street.. Bishop Auckland town centre is now dead. the cinema complex has been dangled from the very start but has never materialised yet
Hippy John you should have been called "doubting Thomas" the town centre was declining long before the st Helen development. If it wasn't for this development M & S would have left the town altogether, my friend works there and they have taken on 20 extra staff. I go back to my earlier comment what are the town council doing? What do we get for our precept we pay for the town council? At least the councillors for tindale and st Helens are trying to make a difference.
[quote][p][bold]hippyjohn[/bold] wrote: Created 120 jobs? These jobs have been lost in Newqate Street.. Bishop Auckland town centre is now dead. the cinema complex has been dangled from the very start but has never materialised yet[/p][/quote]Hippy John you should have been called "doubting Thomas" the town centre was declining long before the st Helen development. If it wasn't for this development M & S would have left the town altogether, my friend works there and they have taken on 20 extra staff. I go back to my earlier comment what are the town council doing? What do we get for our precept we pay for the town council? At least the councillors for tindale and st Helens are trying to make a difference. Better bishop

6:37pm Sun 27 Jan 13

pilchrat says...

120 jobs haven't been lost from the high street because of this development, they were lost because retail chains keep going bust. Only M&S (which has simply relocated) and McDonalds (which was a dive anyway) have actually closed with any kind of relation to the goings on at St Helens. All the other empty shops are simply victims of a recession, high rents, pay and display parking, and retailers going bust.

Get your facts straight before peddling nonsense views.

Plus, as I see it, the town centre has had a decade to sort itself out, a decade of various promises of "urban renaissances", cinemas at the Gentoo site, cinemas in the Newgate Centre, promise of an extended Newgate Centre, promises of a flattened bus station making way for better retail space, so on and so forth. Always fell through, always never materialised. So finally, someone's actually building something the odd few come out of the woodwork and complain when actually one should be saying "How come Cllr Yorke and Turner attracted all this to St Helen's and West Auckland wards, when Cllr Zair has presided over attracting exactly diddly squat to the Town Centre". Perhaps Cllrs Yorke and Turner are earning their vote. They'll get a tick on my ballot paper in the next council elections that's for sure.
120 jobs haven't been lost from the high street because of this development, they were lost because retail chains keep going bust. Only M&S (which has simply relocated) and McDonalds (which was a dive anyway) have actually closed with any kind of relation to the goings on at St Helens. All the other empty shops are simply victims of a recession, high rents, pay and display parking, and retailers going bust. Get your facts straight before peddling nonsense views. Plus, as I see it, the town centre has had a decade to sort itself out, a decade of various promises of "urban renaissances", cinemas at the Gentoo site, cinemas in the Newgate Centre, promise of an extended Newgate Centre, promises of a flattened bus station making way for better retail space, so on and so forth. Always fell through, always never materialised. So finally, someone's actually building something the odd few come out of the woodwork and complain when actually one should be saying "How come Cllr Yorke and Turner attracted all this to St Helen's and West Auckland wards, when Cllr Zair has presided over attracting exactly diddly squat to the Town Centre". Perhaps Cllrs Yorke and Turner are earning their vote. They'll get a tick on my ballot paper in the next council elections that's for sure. pilchrat

11:23am Tue 29 Jan 13

deneside1 says...

Have no problem with the retail park,if town wants to survive it needs to attract shops people want. My only criticism is the final shop,poundlandt!!The
re must be better stores than that, try to attract some more quality clothes stores, even hobbycraft or a another sports shop would be better, we already have one in the town, sorry it really isn't the high end store needed or am I the only person who thinks that
Have no problem with the retail park,if town wants to survive it needs to attract shops people want. My only criticism is the final shop,poundlandt!!The re must be better stores than that, try to attract some more quality clothes stores, even hobbycraft or a another sports shop would be better, we already have one in the town, sorry it really isn't the high end store needed or am I the only person who thinks that deneside1

1:05pm Tue 29 Jan 13

Copley23 says...

The beauty of this also is that folk that live in the Mowden/Cockerton end of Darlington are coming through to shop at St Helens. It's quicker for them to zip up the A68 than trying to get into town and then park in that god-awful new thing that they call the Sainsburys car park.

Dreadful.

This is a beautiful poke in the eye for all those Darlo councillors who just wouldn't listen!

People will vote with their feet ( or cars) and good on them. Bishop was a dump many many years before this started, all cheap shops and the great unwashed. Now at least it can claim to be moving forward.


Congrats on the formal opening but we are still awaiting our very own cinema, soon please.
The beauty of this also is that folk that live in the Mowden/Cockerton end of Darlington are coming through to shop at St Helens. It's quicker for them to zip up the A68 than trying to get into town and then park in that god-awful new thing that they call the Sainsburys car park. Dreadful. This is a beautiful poke in the eye for all those Darlo councillors who just wouldn't listen! People will vote with their feet ( or cars) and good on them. Bishop was a dump many many years before this started, all cheap shops and the great unwashed. Now at least it can claim to be moving forward. Congrats on the formal opening but we are still awaiting our very own cinema, soon please. Copley23

5:17pm Tue 29 Jan 13

Voice-of-reality says...

Councillor Zair. Are you on holiday?
Councillor Zair. Are you on holiday? Voice-of-reality

8:12pm Tue 29 Jan 13

spragger says...

Poundland will make it . ..
Poundland will make it . .. spragger

5:38pm Wed 30 Jan 13

pxatkins says...

Was there an environmental assessment done? I wouldn't mind looking that over ... anyone know where I might find it?
Was there an environmental assessment done? I wouldn't mind looking that over ... anyone know where I might find it? pxatkins

6:07pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Voice-of-reality says...

DCC planning office
DCC planning office Voice-of-reality

8:51pm Wed 30 Jan 13

pilchrat says...

You'll be lucky. The planning application hasn't even been submitted yet. It's nowhere to be found on DCC's site; plenty of other stuff that's come up in the meanwhile has appeared but not the cinema plans ...

I get the feeling it's a big fat white elephant.
You'll be lucky. The planning application hasn't even been submitted yet. It's nowhere to be found on DCC's site; plenty of other stuff that's come up in the meanwhile has appeared but not the cinema plans ... I get the feeling it's a big fat white elephant. pilchrat

9:58am Fri 1 Feb 13

alexnico says...

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my friend's step-mother makes $81 hourly on the computer. She has been out of work for six months but last month her payment was $21069 just working on the computer for a few hours. Here's the site to read more FAB33.COM alexnico

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