TOWNSFOLK can air their views over £15m redevelopment plans on the site of a former North-East coal mine.

Lichfields consultancy has been appointed by Washington-based developer, the Hellens Group, to steer the scheme, on the former Houghton Colliery site, in Houghton-le-Spring, through the planning process.

The proposals include eight retail units of varying sizes, a drive-through restaurant and more than 300 car parking spaces.

Among the retail plots are proposals for a discount foodstore of about 1,800-square metres, three large-format units, comprising a total of 3,600-m sq a further four smaller retail/leisure units, totalling around 600-m sq.

The development team is seeking views on the proposals, with further information and comment forms available via, a newly-created website dedicated to the scheme.

Lichfields have pledged that comments will be carefully considered before the proposals are finalised, with all feedback needing to be provided by Thursday, April 9.

Daniel Gregg, associate director of Lichfields, said: “The vast majority of locally generated retail spending in Houghton-le-Spring goes to stores further afield, including those in Sunderland, Washington and Durham, as well as Gateshead and Newcastle.

“This development would significantly improve the range of shopping provision available locally and reduce the need for residents to travel elsewhere.

“It would also provide a boost for the northern end of Houghton town centre, helping to generate spin-off trade for existing businesses along Newbottle Street.”

Although occupiers are yet to be confirmed, it is understood they are likely to be those without a current presence in the town, or those seeking to enhance their presence in the town.

Lichfields believe the proposals would create significant new job opportunities, estimated to be around 125 once operational, as well as construction employment and other spin-off jobs.

Hellens and Lichfields hope to submit a planning application later next month.

The colliery, which began production in 1827, closed in September 1981. The site has since remained undeveloped.