PLANS for a new supermarket have been approved despite fears parking changes could threaten traders in a County Durham town.

Aldi's plan for the site of the former Kingfisher pub, public car park and part of Festival Walk parade, in Spennymoor, are part of a wider town redevelopment scheme in partnership with Durham County Council and Hellens Group.

This includes a pending application for the demolition of the vacant Kwik Save store and its replacement with a 47-space car park.

During consultation, the Aldi plans sparked 17 letters of concern over potential noise, vibration, traffic and parking issues.

At a planning meeting to decide the application at Durham County Hall on Tuesday, parking issues dominated the debate.

Councillors and objectors supported the principle of the Aldi store but raised fears about the impact on traders during construction and pub demolition works.

Michael Jackson, whose family runs a cafe and greengrocers, called for the plans to be put on hold to allow time to explore potential risks.

He said: “I have no objection against Aldi and I look forward to the town being developed, it should have been done a long time ago. But it’s the total change in the traffic and parking spaces that’s going to affect us and there is a question about the vitality and viability this development is going to have [on the town].”

The plans will see Aldi move from their current store at Cambridge Street to the new site retaining jobs and creating up to ten more in the process.

When completed, a 95-space car park will be open to the public and customers with a 90-minute waiting limit.

Supermarket bosses agreed to scale back delivery hours after originally asking for a 24-hour period and will install acoustic fencing to reduce noise.

Other changes include a new mini roundabout at the Oxford Road/Holburn junction to ease congestion and improve road safety.

Regional property director for Aldi Stores Ltd, Simon Plumb, said the operator had 21 years of trading experience in Spennymoor and wanted to “reinvest in the town.”

However, Councillor Mark Wilkes said was important regeneration plans don’t have the opposite effect.

“If you’re going to redevelop a site in a town centre and potentially remove a big chunk of the parking for a significant period of time, where is the alternative parking so that the rest of the businesses in that area don’t go under,” he told the meeting.

“There’s not much point in expanding an existing business to improve the town if you end up with half the businesses that are there shutting down because nobody there can come in to go to them.”

Coun Wilkes added: “I don’t think there’s anyone in this room that thinks the plans will lead to a reduction in parking in the long-term.

“The problem is what happens between the day one of putting up the barriers and whenever months down the line developments are completed.

“Businesses may go to the wall, it may not for Aldi to have a plan here but it’s damn well for this council to have a plan in place as part of this application to make sure alternative provision is provided.”

Spennymoor ward councillors, speaking at the meeting, supported redevelopment plans for the town but agreed care should be taken around parking issues and existing traders.

Councillor Kevin Thompson said discussions were ongoing around setting up a business forum for traders to share concerns.

Councillor Liz Maddison also called for a two-hour window for public parking at the Aldi car park and amendments to delivery times.

This included a change from 6am to 11pm to 7am to 11pm, Monday to Saturday, to give local residents a “period of eight hours quiet time to prevent sleep disturbance.”

However, Cllr Maddison’s proposals failed to win support from Aldi at the meeting, with supermarket bosses stating an extra hour is needed to process daily deliveries of fresh produce ahead of the store opening.

Coun John Clare added Aldi was not obligated to provide reduced delivery times or open its car park to the general public but had chosen to do so as an offer to residents.

He explained councillors had no grounds to request planning conditions to change delivery times or car parking restrictions as the facts of the case would be “slaughtered on appeal.”

The council’s county planning committee approved the Aldi store, with ten votes in favour and one abstention.

Details of construction, demolition and the potential ‘phasing’ of parking will be decided at a later stage with contractors, the meeting heard.

Planning officers also stressed a demolition management plan would monitor which areas are cordoned off and which car parks are opened.

In future, this would be would be bridged with temporary signs to direct visitors to available parking in the town.

Councillor Ivan Jewell added: “With any improvement there is going to be some disruption, I would like to think we would get the minimum of disruption but I don’t think we can have this improvement without it.”