PLANS to turn a historic town centre shop into a fast food takeaway and flats have been approved despite more than a dozen objections.

Durham County Council has given the go ahead to the conversion of Watson’s Shop in Wolsingham marketplace.

Ajay Nayyar had asked the council for permission to divide the building up to create a hot food takeaway, small shop and three two-bedroom flats.

At the beginning of the 20th Century the building consisted of a shop, stables, cottage and cart shed but Watson’s ceased trading in 2010.

The plan was opposed by 16 residents and Wolsingham Town Council for a number of reasons including a lack of car parking spaces for customers and new residents and also the potential blockage of a narrow access lane.

The town council also said: “Wolsingham is already well catered for by food outlets and an additional takeaway may lead to existing facilities closing.”

Residents from five nearby houses also objected due to potential smells caused by the takeaway, noise and anti-social behaviour from customers and a build of rubbish they feared the new shop would cause.

One resident on Old Post Office Lane asked the county council to guarantee that extra vehicles using the shop and flats would not obstruct emergency services from getting down his street and Hound Hill.

The objector said: “I strongly object on the grounds of safety, this is stopping local people from protecting their property and could also prevent any medical treatment being issued.”

While accepting there were concerns, county council planning officer Colin Harding approved the plan saying it was an acceptable development.

While addressing the town council’s concerns that it could cause other businesses to close, Mr Harding said: “It is considered that the proposal would lead to healthy competition to the benefit of the settlement whilst increasing the range and variety of products available to residents.”

He also said the county council’s environmental health team has not raised any objections concerning smells or noise and said steps would be taken to ensure neither have an “unreasonable” impact.

Mr Harding recommended the takeaway only be open until 11pm to minimise disturbance.