PLANS to extend Darlington's main Safeway store into a "hypermarket" look set to be refused permission by councillors next week.

Safeway submitted plans to extend its Victoria Road store last year after withdrawing an original application 24 hours before a planning meeting.

In the latest proposal, Safeway wants to build a 2,033sq ft extension to the east of the store, towards South Terrace.

But planning officers at Darlington Borough Council have recommended that councillors refuse the application, on the grounds that it will detract trade away from the town centre.

Shoppers can either park in Safeway, or they have to cross busy Victoria Road from the town centre to reach it.

In a report to be presented to planning committee members, planning officer Adrian Miller says: "The proposal would adversely affect the vitality and viability of Darlington town centre.

"The applicants have failed to show why the goods proposed for sale could not be sold from the town centre."

Since the first application was submitted, Safeway has closed the creche at its Victoria Road store and shut its town centre shop in Queen Street in November.

Objections over the latest plan have been received from a local resident, the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Boots Company.

Boots' objection is that the enlarged store would fall within Safeway's "hypermarket" concept, where about 40 per cent of sales are non-food goods, detracting further from town centre trade.

Councillors will consider the application at a planning meeting on Wednesday.