EXPANSION plans for a new business park that will soon be home to a major online retailer could have a "detrimental" effect on a town centre, it has been warned.

Rontec, which operates more than 240 forecourts across England and Wales, has submitted an objection letter to Darlington Borough Council in relation to plans to expand Symmetry Park, next to Lingfield Point in Darlington.

The Northern Echo:

Picture: DB Symmetry

Work is well underway on the site, which is expected to be occupied by Amazon later this year, and outline planning permission has been submitted for the next phase, which could include restaurants, cafes, a pub, hotel, drive thru takeaways and a petrol station.

But the roadside retail firm, which operates two sites in Darlington, has warned the inclusion of such facilities will draw people away from the town centre and from other sites across Darlington.

The firm has confirmed it supports the expansion of the business park, but says the inclusion of such facilities are "unrelated" to the development.

Rupert Ainsworth, property projects manager at Rontec, said: "These proposed uses cannot be considered as ancillary to the main employment uses, and are likely to become a commercial destination attraction in their own right.

"In this respect, the proposed uses have the potential to be detrimental to the economic vitality of local designated centres and Darlington centre itself.

In support of the proposal, the applicant, DB Symmetry, states that such uses are required to support the employment provision of the development, with existing provision in Darlington town centre being too far away.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Ainsworth said: "This ignores the presence of existing hotel, restaurant and petrol station uses in Darlington centre which can serve the development.

"The proposals to duplicate these existing uses will undermine their viability, and the applicants do not substantiate why existing service provision in the locality cannot adequately serve the proposed development. and why provision is required."

Last month, council leader Stephen Harker said he had received assurances from Amazon about the quality of jobs and working conditions at the factory.