A £166 MILLION development backers say could generate 4,000 jobs has won the support of council planners, ahead of a crucial vote next week (Tuesday, April 5).

Citrus Durham wants to build Integra 61, comprising 170,000sq m of industrial space, a 70-bed hotel, 60-bed care home, solar farm, shops, a restaurant, pub, nursery, GP surgery, car showroom and up to 270 houses, off the A1(M) at Bowburn, County Durham.

The 205-acre site has been the subject of several failed development schemes over recent years. Hitachi rejected the farmland for its £82 million train factory, now at Newton Aycliffe, over land ownership issues and Tyneside-based millionaire businessman David Abrahams, best known for donating £650,000 to the Labour Party using other people’s names, led a £1 billion project dubbed Durham Green Business Park.

But Citrus Durham says it has worked incredibly hard for two years to address the “plethora of issues affecting the site”, produced a masterplan that is “appropriate, ambitious, robust and deliverable” and hopes to complete the project in a decade.

“Our aim is simple: to see Integra 61 become the premier industrial and logistics location in the North-East, with the ability to satisfy the large-scale requirements of major national and multi-national companies,” the firm said.

“The time is now right to make this long awaited project a reality. There are some very sizeable requirements from major companies in the market right now that we are in danger of losing to other regions if we cannot offer certainty of delivery at Integra 61.

“We have the right scheme and the right team to deliver this development and meet the aspirations of the county and create the benefits we set out to provide.”

Now the scheme has won the backing of Durham County Council’s planners, who are recommending it be approved by councillors.

People living nearby have generally welcomed the economic opportunities offered by the scheme, but some have raised concerns over its impact on traffic and local services.

Coxhoe Parish Council says building new infants and senior schools should be part of the plans.

The council wants Citrus to contribute £400,000 to expanding Bowburn Infants but says there is spare capacity at Bowburn Juniors.

However, the school itself has formally objected, saying its teaching spaces are full and the village needs a new primary school.

Cornforth Parish Council has objected on traffic grounds. Access to the development would be from the A688.

But there have been no objections from the highway authority or Highways England, nor Northumbrian Water, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Historic England or any council departments.

Business Durham is backing the proposals, saying: “This could be a really important development which would bring lasting economic benefits to all.”

Citrus Durham is seeking outline planning permission. The County Planning Committee will debate the scheme at County Hall on Tuesday (April 5) at 1pm.