DOG owners are being urged to stop using playing fields which are to be transformed into a town park.

Residents in Newton Aycliffe have been walking dogs on football fields at the former Avenue school site for several years.

But the area has been earmarked for a multi-million pound extension to the town centre, including a Tesco supermarket.

Great Aycliffe Town Council's part of the project is to create a town circus which will be the heart of the scheme.

Developers are negotiating an agreement with planners and it is hoped the scheme will finally get the go-ahead in the summer.

Now the council wants owners to stop walking their dogs on the fields so it can be cleared of mess in time for work to start.

Town clerk Michael Rice said: "We are going to ask the public if they would desist from walking their dogs on the area which will become the park.

"It's been used as a dog walk for a number of years and we are trying to get rid of that by the time we come to work on it.

"We're going to put signs up asking people if they would kindly not walk their dogs there in anticipation that we will get the land."

The £450,000 park will include a footpath and cycle way, a playing field, play equipment, a chill-out area and numerous shrubs and trees. Mr Rice said: "I am sure that people will want to be civic minded and realise what we are trying to achieve.

"It's a request to the public to work with us, look to the future of this prestigious park and make is something we can be proud of as a town."