A ‘RECORD number’ of security cameras will be installed at a new shop on the site of a former Methodist chapel.

Yesterday, bosses at Durham County Council approved a controversial application for an alcohol licence for the store, at the previous home of Thornley Methodist Church, in Dunelm Road, Thornley, allowing booze sales up to 11pm.

The proposals had prompted fears of increased ‘crime and disorder’ from some neighbours, but backers argued there was nothing to suggest this would happen and insisted precautions were being taken in any case.

“To restrict [alcohol sales] hours you would need real evidence, as opposed to a fear of what may happen in the future,” said Robert Botkai, a solicitor acting for the applicant.

He added: “With regards to CCTV, 32 cameras is just about a record number, as far as I’m aware for a store of this size, [but] I can understand the fears of the residents.”

Botkai was speaking at yesterday’s (Monday, November 23) meeting of Durham County Council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

Planning permission for the former church to be demolished to make way for the shop, which will be part of the Jack’s franchise run by Tesco, were approved in June (2020).

An application was also submitted to the county council’s licensing department to open and sell alcohol from 7am – 11pm, seven days a week, with Sunday and Bank Holiday hours reduced to 9am – 4pm

Concerns were raised by Thornley Parish Council, others that the shop would ‘create disturbance and lead to anti-social behaviour’.

But after hearing yesterday’s evidence the panel agreed to grant the licence.