Property developers are now in talks with planning bosses at Wear Valley District Council in a bid to bring a retail and leisure park to industrial land on the edge of the town.

The proposals by property company Terrace Hill North-East Ltd, from Stockton, include an eight-screen multiplex cinema, bingo hall, restaurant facilities and 1,000 car spaces.

The company says it already has a high profile cinema chain interested in coming to the town and has had a great deal of interest from restaurant and fast food chains.

About 13.3 hectares of land in St Helens Way, Tindale Crescent, have been earmarked for the project and the former Warner Electrics factory at the centre of the site has already been demolished in anticipation.

If the project comes to fruition it will see DIY giants B&Q move from Bob Hardisty Drive in the town to open a 5,110sq metre 'new generation mini warehouse' with ancillary garden centre and builders' yard with 300 parking spaces.

There would also be space for more retail units as well as the cinema and single-storey bingo hall. Duncan McEwan, development executive at Terrace Hill, said that talks with the council were still in the early stages but everyone is very enthusiastic.

He said: "We have submitted plans for the B&Q part of the plan, which were due to be discussed at the next meeting of the development control committee but we have now withdrawn them and intend to talk further with the council.''

Bob Hope, director of regeneration at Wear Valley District Council, said: "We are still in discussions with Terrace Hill about the plans but we are still quite a way from bringing it to the development control committee."

Derek Toon, town centre manager for Bishop Auckland, said that the plans for the site looked impressive and could be good for Bishop Auckland.

He said: "We have been asking for a cinema in Bishop Auckland for a long time now. Obviously I would have liked it to be in the town centre but this looks excellent. This will attract more people to the town and it may be that they go to the cinema and call off at the town centre to do their shopping. Things are certainly looking up for the town."