A PROPOSAL for a Lidl supermarket, Home Bargains store and Starbucks drive-thru has been recommended for refusal, despite developers claiming it will create 130 jobs and the scheme receiving strong support from residents.

Darlington Borough Council officers said building a 1,900sq m supermarket, 1,900sq m retail store, 24-hour coffee shop and 263 parking spaces at the former Vantage Point site on Faverdale Industrial Estate could hit trade in nearby Cockerton.

A report to the authority’s planning committee, which will consider the scheme next week, said planning permission to build a food store of more than 4,000sq m and a petrol station on the site was granted in 2015, but the permission had lapsed.

The developers said the latest proposal for the site “provides a much-needed retail space for the area, bringing amenities and additionally giving the surrounding community greater choice”.

They stated: “The proposal allows for what is currently derelict land, at the gateway to the industrial estate, to be transformed and rejuvenated into a place for the public to use and enjoy.”

The developers have also claimed the scheme would bring total private sector investment into the area of about £10m.

Unusually for such a scheme, the proposal has attracted some 85 letters of support, outweighing objectors by five to one.

Supporters said the brownfield site has been vacant for far too long and the area would benefit from more choice and enable local residents to shop without having to travel to Cockerton, the town centre, Yarm Road or Morton Park.

However, objectors said the outlets would create noise pollution, traffic congestion and attract antisocial behaviour and litter, and that Starbucks was not needed in a residential area, while a petrol station was.

Among the objectors are the firm behind the West Park development, which includes food retail outlets, the owners of Whessoe Retail Park and the Cooperative Group, which owns stores nearby.

An officers’ report to the meeting states Nexus Planning, “an expert and independent retail consultant” had advised the scheme would “divert material levels of trade from existing food retailers at West Park local centre and Cockerton district centre”.

The Nexus study found Cockerton district centre had a greater dependency on smaller food stores which do not appear to trade as strongly as Aldi and M&S Simply Food at West Park.

The report adds: “The advice is that the vitality and viability of Cockerton is particularly susceptible to out of centre competition and that the proposal would jeopardise the ongoing operation of existing in-centre food stores, most particularly, the larger of the two Co-ops, which is situated at Woodland Road.

“The loss of the larger Co-op would be particularly problematic given its anchor role within the centre.”