A MULTI-million pound shopping complex being developed on a former pit site is already being hailed a success.

A month before Dalton Park's scheduled opening, at Murton, developer ING Real Estate estimates that more than 90 per cent of the retail outlets have been let.

The development company, from London, is behind retail outlets in the capital's Canary Wharf and in Milton Keynes. It signed up for the scheme on the restored former Murton Colliery spoil heap, after judging it to be an ideal location.

Situated just off the A19, Dalton Park is within 30 minutes drive of shoppers in Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Stockton.

When it opens next month it will house up to 70 shops, with parking space for 1,200 cars, and provide employment for more than 800 people.

It will offer mainly end-of-season fashions at up to half-price, as well as leisure and restaurant facilities, set in 85-acres of landscaped parkland.

Among the names already signed up for the development are sportswear company Adidas, with its biggest outlet in the country, plus fashion chains Pilot, Tommy Hilfiger, CAT, Next and Quicksilver.

ING retail manager Mark Owen said he had never known such interest in his experience of such developments.

He said: "The way we're heading we're not going to have that many vacant units.

"We usually hold some back as there are retailers out there waiting in the wings ready to sign.

"There are a few sitting on the fence waiting to see what it looks like when it opens and we feel we have a very strong offer.

"I would say there are 55 to 60 already in and within four to six weeks, the rest will be coming on stream."

Apart from the retail units there will also be an assortment of restaurants and cafes, including a drive-through McDonalds.

Mr Owen said a series of events was being planned for opening day, with a mystery celebrity lined up to cut the ribbon on April 10.

* Details of the remaining job vacancies are available at the Dalton Park JobCentre.