PLANS to turn an empty shop in Bishop Auckland town centre into a cafe have been given the green light by Durham County Council.

Last year, proposals were lodged for vacant premises at 2 and 4 Newgate Street which were last occupied by Ryman Stationery.

Under new proposals, the space will soon reopen as The Fox’s Tale – an independent cafe and coffee shop.

Its design aims to fit in with the town’s historical surroundings, with decor also “sympathetic” to the age of the building, circa 1910.

A sample menu, submitted to the council, lists a range of breakfast, brunch and lunch options from sandwiches and soups to pancakes and waffles and a business plan from the applicant also sets out the vision for the cafe.

“It will be a meeting place for parents after they have dropped their little ones off, for the worker grabbing a coffee on the way to work in the town, or for the students who are wanting something more than a bottle of pop and a pasty,” it reads.

“It will be a place for the retired, the day-trippers, the shoppers, the walkers, the brunchers, the lunchers; and anyone else who wants a great cup of coffee and a bite to eat, in an environment that is relaxed and welcoming to all.”

There are plans to showcase artwork and host themed events such as book clubs and running clubs and once operational the business expects to create two part-time and two full-time jobs.

Councillor Joy Allen, who represents the town and is cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, backed the scheme saying cafes are important for “growing tourist trade” and would help provide residents with extra choice on the high street.

The council’s planning authority approved the plans on Monday, January 13.

A decision notice reads: “The proposed change of use would improve the vitality and viability of the centre, without any significant impact on the supply of buildings suitable for A1 use/shops and the use is also considered complementary to other existing town centre uses. 

“It is considered that the proposals could be accommodated without any adverse impact upon the significance of the designated heritage assets, neighbouring amenity or highway safety.”

Opening hours will include 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm on Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.