The final phase of a business park which could bring 1,000 jobs has been approved as a "no-brainer" by councillors.

The plan will bring up to 53,780sqm of storage, distribution and industrial floorspace at Jade Business Park.

Durham County Council asked its own planning committee for outline permission to complete the development of the council-owned business park, which currently employs 160 people in seven units.

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Principal planning officer Graham Blakey told the committee: "The site is going forward for commercial development.

The Northern Echo: A 3D visualisation of what the Jade Business Park development might look like. Picture: Frank Shaw Associates Architects.A 3D visualisation of what the Jade Business Park development might look like. Picture: Frank Shaw Associates Architects. (Image: Frank Shaw Associates Architects)

"The first phase of the development of the business park has been funded and completed by the council with third-party developers and managed by Business Durham.

"All seven units built are now fully let.

"The current demand for industrial units is outpacing the existing supply of industrial space from businesses both inside and outside the county."

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The council said in a statement: "These units currently employ 160 people with this expected to rise further to over 250 people in the next five years.

"Buckinghamshire Properties Ltd is now in a position to complete the remaining Phase 2 of development at Jade, working with Durham Council once outline planning permission is granted, but this time with mainly private and commercial funding.

"This final phase of development will provide a further 550,000sqft of floorspace with an additional seven units proposed... and when completed could support a further 1,000 jobs."

Councillors were shown a 3D rendering of the proposed design at the 14.45-hectare reclaimed former Hawthorn Colliery site on the outskirts of Murton.

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Mr Blakey said there was poor access to public transport but this was balanced against the growth brought by the scheme.

He said: "Officers considered the economic benefits and job creation in reusing the site of this nature would be considered to outweigh the issues associated with the site.

"Nearby properties are considered unlikely to suffer from impacts upon their amenity from the proposed uses, but there are controls in place to minimise that even further."

Councillor Carl Marshall said: "I think this has been a very slow burner over well over a decade and a lot of people involved in getting this site to what it is now.

"I'm really pleased that we're in a position for the site to be taken further.

"Since the council took the speculative decision to build those units, we've seen high demand... to bring much-needed jobs to the east of the county.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Carl Marshall. Picture: Northern Echo.Cllr Carl Marshall. Picture: Northern Echo. (Image: Northern Echo, Newsquest)

"It's a strategic site, it's allocated in the county plan. It's an absolute no-brainer.

"I'm pleased that I've been able to play a small part when I was the cabinet lead for economic regen in getting this development going, and I know there's a lot of people looking forward to seeing this scheme rolled out."

The committee voted unanimously to approve the outline plan. Detailed plans will be submitted at a later date.

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