A SUPERMARKET is to submit a fresh planning application to create a giant store in a north Durham town hit by two major fires in recent months.

Tesco already has planning permission to build a store in the Clifford Road area of Stanley.

Approval was given by Durham County Council in 2010 and the company has until July to start work.

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But Tesco, which recently opened a Tesco Extra store in neighbouring Consett, has said it is not yet ready for Stanley development.

It is expecting to carry out more consultation in the area before a new application is submitted.

Meanwhile, community leaders are planning to meet this week to discuss a rescue plan for traders in the town after two old buildings were damaged by fire and several businesses were forced to close.

A Tesco spokesman said: “Tesco is committed to building a new store in Stanley and bringing jobs and investment to the town.

“A new store will help residents to stay in Stanley to do their weekly shop, creating a boost in footfall for local businesses.

“We have been revisiting our plans and will be sure to update the community.”

Supermarket rival Asda, which has a store at the top of Front Street, is currently a big employer in the area and Tesco has said its existing proposal will bring 400 more jobs.

But traders have expressed concern at the economic impact a second big supermarket could have on the town centre.

Pat Heaton, manageress of Steven’s News, said: “It will drop our takings quite a bit. I would say small businesses may have to close because there is no parking as it is so they will just park and go into Tesco for everything. It is hard for business here already and this will make it worse.”

A spokesman for another business, Star Buys said: “It’ll be a bad thing because the Front Street is dead as it is. I cannot see how it would do any good.

"Why do we need another supermarket round the corner? There is going to be no-one left on the street.”

But some business people think new store will actually boost trade by attracting people into the town centre.

House and Home assistant manager Darren Robins said: “I think people will have more of a reason to come in and we will benefit as a result. I am all for it.”