A SUPERMARKET chain has scaled back its plans for a new town centre store.

Tesco was granted planning permission in 2011 for an 86,500 sq ft store in Stanley, expected to create 400 much-needed jobs.

However, the company says that discussions with current tenants on the Clifford Road site have taken longer than expected, delaying the start of construction.

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Tesco says it has since had a rethink due to changing shopping habits in the intervening years and is now poised to submit a fresh planning application for a smaller 61,000 sq ft store, which would create 250 jobs.

Full details of the new proposals will be revealed at two public consultation events to be held in the Derwent Suite at the Lamplight Theatre, the first on Thursday, January 30 from 4pm to 8pm followed by a second session on Saturday, February 1 from 10am to 1pm.

Originally, the store was to be built on stilts with some car parking underneath the store, whereas it is now planned to build the supermarket at ground level.

Tesco also says the new outlet will concentrate on food and clothing, along with a pharmacy and cafe, but not the larger electrical goods such as televisions which were to have been sold under the original plan.

Explaining the rethink, Tesco’s corporate affairs manager Mark Thomas said: "Shopping habits have changed a great deal in that relatively short time so we have come up with some new ideas which we hope will be welcomed."

He added: "We realise that this is very important news for Stanley and we want to work as closely as possible with local people to make sure we deliver a store which creates jobs, provide shoppers with more choice and great value food and helps revive the town centre.

"Tesco is committed to coming to Stanley."

Stanley is recovering from two devastating town centre fires and the revised plans were welcomed by North Durham MP Kevan Jones.

He said: "I hope this represents a revival in the fortunes of Stanley.

"We know that developments of this scale tend to attract further investment and that is what the town desperately needs."

Tesco says that a proportion of the jobs in the new store would be reserved for long-term unemployed from the local area, who would be given extra support such as interview training.