BUILDERS have moved onto an auction mart to start creating a base for small rural businesses.

The £147,000 scheme at Middleton-in-Teesdale Auction Mart, in County Durham, will see four units developed for new or growing businesses.

Work started on Monday and the units are expected to be ready by June.

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The project, known as Middleton Hub, has been developed by the mart, Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (Utass), South Durham Enterprise Agency and Durham County Council, with funding from the NorthEast Rural Growth Network.

It will be part of a network of hubs across the region that will offer facilities to support small businesses.

Development worker Hayley Bell, who is overseeing the project, said: “It is nice to see building work underway, the units will be blank canvasses and available to all sorts of businesses.

“Alongside the units there will be business support, workshops, training, information and advice about grants.

“Any prospective tenants or anyone interested in starting a business can get involved.”