PLANS for a new Co-op supermarket have taken a step forward after bosses won permission to sell alcohol.

The retail chain had applied to Durham County Council for a premises licence as part of plans to open a new store in Shildon.

This includes a purpose-built hub on the former site of the Shildon Motor Company off Dale Road in the town.

The licence bid formed part of Co-op’s plans to move from their existing location on Redworth Road.

As part of a licensing application, the chain applied to sell alcohol between 6am-11pm, seven days a week.

During consultation, Durham Constabulary, the council’s Environmental Health team and other parties raised no concerns.

As the result of a single objection from a neighbour over potential antisocial behaviour issues, the matter was called before council licensing bosses.

Richard Arnot, of the Ward Hadaway law firm, represented the Co-operative Group at the council hearing on Thursday, June 25.

He said a raft of measures would be brought in at the store around age-restricted products with a strong focus on training.

This includes a process where staff must pass several tests before being allowed to sell alcohol alongside regular training refreshers and multiple supervisors.

The meeting heard that planning permission had already been granted for the store, with Co-op representatives adding there was no evidence to suggest the store would not meet the council’s licensing objectives.

Mr Arnot also said Co-op is a very “risk-averse” organisation and assured councillors that the store would be well managed.

In response to the neighbour objection, he added CCTV and a well-lit car park area on site would act as a deterrent for potential antisocial behaviour.

The licensing hearing was held digitally and broadcast on YouTube in line with social distancing guidelines.

Following private discussion, the council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee approved the alcohol bid.

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives employing thousands of people across its food stores.

The new Shildon store is expected to open in October 2020.