A businessman who hoped to build a factory at a redundant cement works - creating 135 jobs - is now looking at a new site.

Terry Simmons wanted to create a building board plant at LaFarge's Blue Circle Cement works, in Eastgate, Weardale, which closed last August with the loss of 147 jobs.

Now, after so far failing to secure part of the site, he is searching for an alternative location in the dale, where he has lived for 15 years.

The Darlington-based overseas business developer is looking at the possibility of acquiring part of the Weardale Steel plant, in Wolsingham.

The 140-year-old steelworks went into administration last October following a disastrous takeover by Midlands-based Eastwood Industries- which led to 85 workers being made redundant.

It was later bought out by Anglo-Swedish, which does not occupy the full site and has employed 35 people. Mr Simmons would need to invest around £80,000 to refurbish one of the units and create a separate entrance to set up the plant.

He said: "I haven't given up completely on the Eastgate site, which was my preferred choice because I want to provide manufacturing jobs in Upper Weardale.

"But I'm considering the Wolsingham site, which would still create jobs for the Dale."

Mr Simmons said he was frustrated with LaFarge and government regeneration agency One NorthEast's handling of his proposals.

He said he was offered a five year lease which would not give him time to break even and would be a short-term solution to unemployment in the district.

"We've machines waiting to be used and orders lined up for the board, which is used in many ways in construction.

"If LaFarge and One NorthEast had either said 'no' or came up with a viable suggestion I could have been on the site and employing people before last Christmas," he said.

LaFarge and One NorthEast were unavailable to comment last night.