TWO town centre shops which have stood empty for many months look set to be converted into a pub.

The former PoundWorld and Dorothy Perkins stores on Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, have been bought by national pub chain Amber Taverns.

The discount retailer Poundworld shut last summer and the old Dorothy Perkins next door, formerly the McIntyre shoe stop, has been mostly unoccupied since the fashion retailer moved up the street, except for use as a seasonal charity shop for the Angel Trust, a pop-up bar for Bishop Auckland Food Festival and an exhibition space. The newer Dorothy Perkins closes down this month.

Amber Taverns confirmed it has been trying to secure a site in the town centre for a number of years and hopes to open a 'modern community pub'– provisionally called The Tap and Tun– serving cask ales, craft beers and a range of gins and cocktails in the summer.

The chain currently runs The Brewers Arms in Spennymoor, The Whistle Blower in Consett and GW Horners in Chester-le-Street.

Operations director Gary Roberts said: "We have submitted a planning application and will submit a new premises licence application next week. These will dictate the timescales for the development should we be successful.

"The work will be tendered to a number of local and regional contractors. With a fair wind we would be looking to open in May/June 2019."

He expects the pub to create three or four fulltime and up to 18 flexible, part-time jobs.