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Proposed shopping centre expansion at Pity Me sparks parking concerns
CONCERNS have been raised over parking and congestion following proposals to expand an out-of-town shopping centre on the outskirts of Durham City.
Centros which manages the Arnison Centre, at Pity Me, has applied for planning permission to add mezzanine floors to three existing units and build an additional unit or “pod” next to McDonald’s – to provide for a new restaurant.
But Durham county councillor Mark Wilkes, who has met with planning officers and developers, said he would ask the matter to be referred to a planning committee meeting for a decision if issues he raised were not satisfactorily addressed by Friday.
Coun Wilkes said the proposals would result in a reduction of 43 parking spaces, but potentially provide floor space to boost shopping at the centre.
He said: “There are times when the car park is full to bursting. Congestion can be a real problem as is pedestrian safety within the site. ”
He added: “My concerns also include the impact on the wider area, problems with heavy goods vehicles in Framwellgate Moor and Pity Me are a major concern of residents as well as congestion issues outside the site.”
Coun Wilkes said if all the issues could be addressed, then the improvements would be beneficial for the area, bringing in extra jobs.
The latest proposals come as new Marks and Spencer prepares to open early summer, creating several hundred jobs.
Centros spokesman Steve Bryson said: “The main objective is to increase the Arnison Centre’s attractiveness to shoppers.
“By improving the few vacant units we have got what we can do is attract more retailers and give shoppers more choice.
“What it means is that shoppers will stay longer and not necessarily make more visits. The idea is to generate trips that are linked, so that does not put more cars on the road.”
He added: “Our traffic consultants have studied the provision of parking and shown that even if we were to take out the 43 spaces there is still sufficient parking capacity on site to cover the demand.”
Mr Bryson said Centros was considering its response to Coun Wilkes’ concerns.
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