A SUPERMARKET giant looks set to get the all-clear to expand into Durham city centre.

Sainsbury’s wants Durham County Council’s go-ahead to convert 3 North Road, formerly the Cinnamon Indian restaurant upstairs and a Burger King downstairs, into a new store.

A local county councillor has backed the scheme and a council spokesman said planning officers acting under delegated powers would take a decision by Tuesday, February 18.

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Elvet and Gilesgate councillor David Freeman said: “The opening of Sainsbury’s in what used to be Burger King in North Road is to be welcomed.

“It will occupy a shop unit which has been empty since last year and helps in regenerating the area.

“I would hope however that any alcohol licence is no longer than at neighbouring Tesco. This is something the council has been contacted about.”

Sainsbury’s wants the store to be open 7am to 11pm seven days a week.

North Road’s Tesco is currently open daily from 6am to 11pm.

In a supporting planning statement, agents WYG Planning and Environment say: “The proposed change of use, installation of an ATM with associated bollards and alterations to the shopfront will secure a long-term use for the unit, which promotes an active frontage, assisting to maintain and enhance the vitality and viability of the city centre.

“The proposals are in keeping with the character of the building and surrounding conservation area.

“Accordingly, the proposals presented are considered to be a positive addition to the city and street scene and comply with council policy.

“It will assist in providing a modern high quality convenience store to the benefit of local shoppers and residents and both the use and proposed ATM will extend the use of the area beyond normal retail opening hours, ensuring that whilst a restaurant use is lost, an equivalent use, which adds to the evening economy of the area, is preserved.”

Although consultation has officially ended, comments can still be made online at durham.gov.uk/planning, using the references CE/13/01689/FPA and CE/13/01690/AD.