A PLAN to ease congestion around a new business park that will soon to be occupied by Amazon has been approved.

As part of planning permission being granted, a travel plan outlining how the infrastructure surrounding Symmetry Park, next to Lingfield Point in Darlington will cope with increased traffic needed to be approved by Darlington Borough Council before the major online retailer is allowed to move onto the site.

The Northern Echo:

The travel plan had to include details of provision for cycle parking, showering and changing facilities, and bus stop facilities, as well as methods to reduce dependency on the private car.

The Northern Echo revealed earlier this week that workers will be encouraged to travel by moped to help reduce the number of cars.

Anyone having difficulty travelling to the site will be advised to take advantage of a Wheels to Work scheme, in the form of moped loans, which will be available for a “low weekly price” and also covers insurance, road tax, breakdown cover, servicing and protective clothing.

The Northern Echo:

Proposals to reduce the number of workers who will use a car to get to the site also include a car sharing scheme, travel awareness programmes, negotiating staff discounts for public transport or the provision of interest free loan rates for public transport tickets or bicycle purchases.

A new cycle path with a pedestrian crossing and pedestrian island has been proposed to run alongside the site, whilst two bus services will operate near to the entrance of the distribution centre.

A total of 820 car parking spaces are proposed on site, which has been reduced from 900. This also includes 41 disabled spaces and provision for electric car charging docks.

100 covered cycle parking spaces and a motorcycle parking area, which will be able to accommodate 40 motorcycles, is also proposed.

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, who previously said workers from nearby businesses in the town have approached her about concerns over the increased traffic, said the moped idea will “raise eyebrows”.

The Northern Echo:

But Darlington Borough Council leader Heather Scott said Ms Chapman’s attitude to the scheme was “very negative”.

Ms Chapman said: “It is all very well having a travel plan but Amazon need to show they are able to deliver it.

“It is realistic to expect people to use public transport and bicycles to get to work – we should be encouraging that more, but the right support needs to be in place.

“I have had businesses come to me with concerns about the infrastructure in the surrounding roads, it can’t cope (if there are hundreds more cars).”

Amazon are expected to move into Symmetry Park later this year.