CALLS to tackle a dated and derelict town centre shopping precinct look set to be answered with news that most of the site will be flattened and redeveloped.

For at least 15 years residents and retailers in Spennymoor, County Durham, have longed for dramatic changes to Festival Walk which - after years of neglect - has become an eyesore and is more than half empty.

On Tuesday, Durham County Council revealed a developer and retailer who want to demolish more than two thirds of the 1960s mall and build a new supermarket on part of the land have been found.

On Wednesday May 11, cabinet will be asked to approve the principle of buying the old Kwiksave block so the council can have it demolished and turned into a free car park- costing the authority around £600,000.

Its purchase will be the catalyst for the end user to go to its UK board for approval to move in and for the developer to apply for permission to demolish and develop the site.

Neither can be identified yet but the retailer is a food store already in the town- so Lidl, Aldi or Asda- and the developer has a regional property portfolio- which gives the council confidence it has the site’s long term interests at heart.

Both should be announced within two months, with public consultation about the plans to begin before the summer holidays and work expected to start in early 2017.

The proposals will see most of the 1966 brick shopping centre pulled down, along with The Kingfisher pub, to make way for a large store and car parking.

Existing tenants will move into part of the precinct which overlooks the bandstand and will be modernised and there will be ground level and road improvements.

Councillor Neil Foster, cabinet member for economic regeneration and culture, said: “It gets rid of some of the area that hasn’t been working, the retained area will become more user friendly, the food shop already has a presence in the town so we think it will boost not compete with the town centre.

“It will open up the whole town, instead of feeling closed in by concrete it will let light in, it will look and feel so much better and lead to opportunities for existing and new businesses.”

Festival Walk has changed ownership many times over the last 15 years and in 2006 Castlemore Properties bought it with a view to a total revamp.

But the company was hit by the economic downtown and went into administration.

Since 2009 Festival Walk has been ran by administrators Price Waterhouse Coopers and asset manager Cordatus. They struggled to find a buyer but in late 2015 the current developer came forward and the council has been in talks since to help facilitate its proposal.

It fits into wider plans to regenerate the town which has seen Durham County Council spend £300,000 to boost 25 town centre businesses since 2009; 681 houses built in five years with almost 2,300 more under construction or planned; £14m invested in schools and £45m of a proposed £100m scheme delivered DurhamGate.

Cllr Foster admitted there has been false dawns for Festival Walk but is confident this scheme will work.

He said: “Regardless of all the other investment, Festival Walk has remained the biggest issue for the town centre so it is great to be delivering this message.

“We’ve been working on this almost two years and are satisfied it is a long term move that will embrace the town.”