EXPANSION plans for a new business park that will soon be home to a major online retailer will not have "any significant adverse impact" on a town centre, it has been claimed.

Earlier this year, Rontec, which operates more than 240 garage forecourts across England and Wales, submitted a letter of objection to Darlington Borough Council in relation to plans to expand Symmetry Park, next to Lingfield Point in Darlington, which is expected to be occupied by Amazon later this year.

The Northern Echo:

The firm has confirmed it supports the expansion of the business park, but objects to plans to include restaurants, cafes, a pub, hotel, drive thru takeaways and a petrol station in the second phase of the development, warning they will have a "detrimental" effect on a town centre.

But in response, Dominic Holding, senior planner at planning and development consultancy firm Lichfields, said there were no suitable alternative sites available, and the town centre serves a "different market " to that of the Amazon development.

In a letter to Darlington Borough Council's planning department, he said: "It has always been fully acknowledged that the ancillary uses proposed, including the food and beverage facilities, hotel and petrol filling station/kiosk would not be located within an existing centre.

"It has been demonstrated that none of the opportunities identified are suitable and available to accommodate the proposed uses due to a range of constraints, including size, location, and existing uses.

The Northern Echo:

"It was also demonstrated that the proposed ancillary uses would not result in any significant adverse impact, either upon investment in centres, or town centre vitality and viability. Existing food and beverage uses within existing centres in the area cater for a different market to those proposed at Morton Park, which are primarily aimed at serving visitors to/employees at the surrounding employment developments.

"Any diversion of trade would be spread across a range of different facilities, both within and outside of existing centres, and there would not be any significant adverse impact upon an individual centre.

"It is also considered that the inclusion of these facilities within the estate will reduce any impact on the surrounding road network as it will mean employees will not need to leave the estate to access such uses."

The Northern Echo understands the first phase of the site will be completed in September, however Amazon will not be allowed to occupy the building until a travel plan outlining how workers will get to and from the site is approved.

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman previously warned the infrastructure will not cope with hundreds of cars visiting the site.