A £50M INDUSTRIAL park planned for Darlington will help change the face of employment in the town, the project's developer said last night.

Plans have been drawn up to transform a derelict area of land in the town's Faverdale area into a 1.2 million sq ft industrial and distribution site, creating about 1,500 jobs over the next five to ten years.

Its developer, St Modwen, has hailed the project as a major step in the growth of Darlington and the Tees Valley, bringing new forms of employment to the region.

Steve Prosser, regional director for St Modwen, said the scheme could be as important to Darlington as the muchheralded £200m regeneration of Central Park, a project that will include homes, offices, restaurants, bars, a hotel and conference centre.

"Although Central Park is obviously a huge development for Darlington, what we are planning will bring a different kind of employment, jobs in manufacturing and distribution, jobs which will involve a whole spectrum of businesses, from small businesses up to larger organisations,"

he said.

"I would imagine this is very much wanted in Darlington.

"It will bring a whole new type of work to that offered by other developments."

Work on the 70-acre site next to Faverdale East Business Park - home to distribution centres for Argos and Aldi - could get under way within the next 12 to 18 months, subject to planning permission.

Mr Prosser said it was unclear exactly what would be built on the site and potential tenants were being approached.

"We have submitted outline plans, so our application can be as flexible as possible, so we can accommodate the needs of what companies want from the site,"

he said. "If a company wants a unit of 5,000sq ft, or one big unit of one million sq ft, we want to be able to accommodate those specific requirements.

"There is one company in particular which we know is seeking a facility in the North-East, but they will be one of many companies we will approach."

St Modwen has owned the land for about two years, but has submitted plans for regeneration after negotiating with Darlington Borough Council over access to the previously landlocked site.