A BLUEPRINT outlining what form a major development will take at Durham Tees Valley Airport has been delayed by another six months.

Durham Tees Valley Airport has been given an extra six months to put together its plans for the south side of the airport, which are expected to include a freight centre and office developments.

It is forming the Southside Development Agreement, in partnership with Darlington and Stockton councils and Tees Valley Regeneration, to transform 250 acres of brownfield land next to the airport.

The development was given outline planning permission in 1999.

The development agreement, deciding what should be on the site, was due to be finished by the end of last month, but owner Peel Airports has asked for another six months.

It is the second time a six-month extension has been given.

However, airport bosses say there are no plans to shelve the project.

Hugh Lang, the airport's managing director, said: "This is just an internal procedure between ourselves and the local authority.

"The Southside project is a long-term project of about 15 or 20 years.

"We are reviewing all the different options for the site and we need time to finish the report and the commercial review.

"We're quite confident that all our work will be done by March 31."

Peter Nears, the director of planning and strategy for Peel Airports, said the extension for the Southside development would not have any effect on the separate airport expansion plans.

The £56m plans include a business park on the north side of the airport, a hotel and improvements to the terminal, aircraft stands, and a sewage treatment plant.

However, Mr Nears said he hoped a decision would be made on the expansion as quickly as possible, especially as there were plans for rival hotels in the vicinity.

Mr Nears said: "We have made progress with the Highways Agency and we'll be moving towards a decision.

"Obviously, we want to move on and get permission.

"If matters are delayed the opportunity will disappear, because operators do get frustrated at delays.

"But we know that if we can secure permission for Christmas, which I hope we can, then we will hopefully be moving."

Jacky Cooper, who lives near the airport, said future airport developments should be restricted to the Southside and that expansion plans on the north side were unnecessary.

"If they had put the business park where they put the new car park there would be no trouble and it could have been up and running now. We're not against the airport expanding, we just feel they should use the land that's previously been developed."

Martin prepares region for take off

THE organisation given the task of bringing jobs and investment to Teesside has appointed a new director to spearhead development on a key site.

Martin Wilks has become director of the Durham Tees Valley Airport project, where his role will be to take forward plans to create an air freight centre, offices and distribution facilit-ies on the south side of the airport.

"The aim will be to develop the airport into a facility that's fitting for a city region such as the Tees Valley.

"In the longer term, it will become more than a passenger terminal and offer the region a full range of facilities and more employment," he said.

He will step up from his present role as project manager at Tees Valley Regeneration, where he has worked mostly on the redevelopment of the Middlehaven site, in Middlesbrough.

The Southside project is a joint venture with the airport, whose managing director Hugh Lang said: "The airport is widely recognized as a major economic driver for the Tees Valley - and that is underlined in both the Regional Economic Strategy and the recently-launched Tees Valley City Region Business Plan.

"Already, of course, it is home to 30 businesses employing 750 people and for every additional million passengers we can attract, there will be 500 more jobs.

"At the same time, the size and location of our overall site offers tremendous potential for attracting other businesses - for example, those who want to be located near an airport - and we welcome the involvement of Tees Valley Regeneration in developing the plans to make that happen."

Mr Wilks is a chartered surveyor, who has previously worked on road schemes for Newcastle City Council.

Tees Valley Regeneration's chief executive Joe Docherty said: "Martin's very welcome appointment underlines our commitment to this strategic site. The airport is a major gateway to the Tees Valley and will play a key role in its regeneration."