Plans have been unanimously approved to merge three retail sites at a Washington shopping centre in a move which is estimated to create up to 160 jobs.

Proposals were submitted to Sunderland City Council earlier this year to carry out work involving units four, five and six at the Galleries Retail Park in Washington.

The three units were most recently occupied by New Look, Outfit and Peacocks, according to a planning report.

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Submitted by Avison Young on behalf of Zurich Assurance Ltd, the freeholder of the retail park, the scheme will see the three sites amalgamated to create a single larger unit.

The development will include the installation of a mezzanine floor to help create an additional 2,096m² in floor space, along with alterations to shopfronts to create a single entrance, landscaping and engineering works.

Once operational, the scheme is anticipated to result “in the creation of up to 120 part time and 40 full time jobs”, according to planning documents.

The proposals went before the City Council’s planning and highways committee on Monday (October 31), where councillors unanimously agreed to give them the go-ahead, with little debate.

This was in line with the recommendation of planning officers who said it was an “appropriate development” within the Galleries Retail Park.

A report from planners said: “[The plan] provides opportunity to facilitate economic growth through the adaption and re-use of existing retail units.

“The nature and appearance of the proposed modifications raise no significant adverse impacts on the amenity of the area.”

A design and access statement, previously submitted in support of the application, outlined how developers believe the proposals will improve the area.

It said: “The applicant wishes to invest in the redevelopment of this retail unit, benefitting the local community and economy by providing additional jobs and electrical vehicle charging points.

“The proposals have been carefully considered to not impact the existing character or functionality of the building.”

The plans also include the provision of eight new electric charging bays and the removal of four standard spaces to accommodate new trolley bays.

At the rear of the building a new canopy will be installed, along with a two-storey plant enclosure.

Overall the proposed floor space area in the new amalgamated unit will equate to approximately 5,650m².

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