PLANS for a retail redevelopment on a former college site have been given the nod by council chiefs.

Lidl, KFC, Starbucks and Home Bargains are all set to find a new home on the former site of East Durham and Houghall, Peterlee.

The scheme had sought permission for five units on the land, the other side of Burnhope Way from the town centre.

And despite concern from some traders in the town that the new venture would hurt trade, members of the Durham County Council's county planning committee voted unanimously to approve it.

“You can hardly say there’s diversity in what we already have, unless it’s in the choice of charity shops,” Susan McDonnell, a county councillor and member of Peterlee Town Council, told the meeting.

“I’ve spoken to literally hundreds of people about this and 99 per cent of them want it to happen.

“This isn’t like a Dalton Park, on the edge of town, this is in the town centre and I think it will bring more people into the town centre.”

A formal response to the plans from Peterlee Town Council raised no objections.

Speaking for Quora, the applicant, Alison Clack of Cerda Planning promised the scheme would ‘secure the retention of Lidl and Home Bargains within the town – shops which would otherwise be closing’.

However, speakers representing the Castle Dene Shopping Centre and its owners warned the plans could have a ‘devastating impact’ on the town centre.

Letters of objection to the county council raised the prospect of increased congestion, anti-social behaviour and litter.

Objections were also submitted by Asda and Wilko, which both have stores in the town centre.

According to papers submitted with the application, approval is due to see work start on the site later this year, with completion expected in spring next year (2020).

It added current leases for Lidl and Home Bargains stores in Peterlee will expire soon, but the new development will keep them in the town ‘for the long term’.

According to the plans, two ‘drive-thrus’ are already allocated for a KFC and a Starbucks, while Lidl and Home Bargains are also due to move in.

No business is currently allocated to the fifth unit.

Together, these are predicted to create up to 120 full time jobs.

Tesco had gained planning permission for a superstore on the site in 2011.

But the Peterlee scheme was one of 40 Tesco dropped following a dip in the company’s performance.