MORE than 80 jobs could be created if plans for a private care home for the elderly are approved.

Developers want to build the home in Bishop Auckland, to provide accommodation for about 90 people.

Planning officers from Wear Valley District Council are working with architects from the Newcastle Ladhar Group on plans for the building in Escomb Road.

The company, which owns care homes, cafes, pubs and nightclubs in the region, feels the site is ideal because it is close to the General Hospital, Station View Medical Centre and a pharmacy.

Michael Errington, finance director of the Ladhar Group, said: "I don't want to presume we will get permission, but it seems an ideal site to us.

"It would be convenient for people travelling to work or visiting residents at the home on public transport and is close to the services old people and their carers need to access regularly."

He believes demands will grow for care home complexes as Durham County Council plans to close up to 17 of its homes.

The council move is in response to government guidance which encourages local authorities to help elderly people live more independently rather than spending £60m upgrading them to tough new standards.

The plans are yet to be finalised and discussed by the district council's development control committee.

At this stage the company wants to construct a three-storey stone and buff-brick building with an artificial grey slate roof.

Officials from South Durham and Weardale Community Health Council have written to planning officers expressing several concerns about the proposals.

The Community Health Council's chief officer Valerie Bryden is worried that a 90-bed facility will not be fully occupied particularly as care providers move towards smaller, more homely and less institutionalised settings.

Mrs Bryden has also suggested planners consider better access to fire escapes and think carefully about the shared parking with Station View Medical Centre and the impact that will have on security at the surgery.

Council officers expect the plans to be completed in the next few weeks, to go before the development control committee in March or April.