A SUPERMARKET has applied to remove a planning condition requiring it to provide a dedicated bus service to the store.

Tesco, which opened a giant outlet on the former steelworks site, in Consett, in 2013, is obliged to run buses for people in the surrounding area.

But now the retailer has applied to Durham County Council to have the condition removed.

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The T1 service runs five times a day between the store and Lanchester while the T2, which runs three times a day, goes to Chopwell.

Data collected by the company has revealed, on average, between seven and 11 passengers use the T1 every day, between Monday and Saturday, while 23-28 people use the T2.

As part of the application, Roderick MacLeod, from Montagu Evans, the chartered surveyors working for Tesco, said: “Average passenger usage information provided by the service operator has identified very low patronage.

“Data also shows that some of the earlier and later services on both routes are running empty.

“The low demand is due to the provision of alternative public services which allow customers to access the store, specifically the 45 and 46 bus services.”

The multi-million pound development was initially given the backing of the now defunct Derwentside District Council, after the planning committee said they were ‘minded to approve the plan’, in 2009.

Councillors had been advised to reject the plan after officers warned it would be detrimental to the local economy.

It was referred to the Government Office North-East because the application was at odds with the existing local plan, but it was decided that a public inquiry was not necessary.

Durham County Council’s planning committee gave the scheme the go ahead when it was discussed by members in 2011.

One condition was that bus services would be provided during the life of the store unless otherwise approved.

Councillor Alex Watson, who was the leader at Derwentside in 2009, and was recently re-elected to Durham County Council, said: “It is a great service. I do not understand why they are doing this.

“It is beneficial to the company and they use it from all over the area.

“It would be a real set back and would isolate these people from having the benefits of having a supermarket without having to get a taxi.”