A SECOND car "superstore" is to open in the region this spring.

Used car specialist Carcraft plans to develop the £15m vehicle sales centre at Birtley, near Chester-le-Street, close to the A1(M).

The announcement came only two months after Richville, which is based in Jersey, revealed it was planning a £10m new and used car retail centre with eight dealerships at the Silverlink Business Park, in North Tyneside.

Carcraft submitted its proposals for the development of the 14-acre site to Gateshead Council's planning department last week.

A council spokesman said the plans, which are likely to be considered at the end of the month, included space for 1,002 cars, including visitor parking. The site is expected to create 70 jobs.

A spokesman for Carcraft went further yesterday, saying the site would create more than 200 jobs and stock about 1,500 second-hand cars, hundreds of which would be displayed in a 60,000sq ft showroom.

Carcraft has six similar outlets in the West Midlands, Leeds, Sheffield, Newport, Rochdale and on Merseyside.

Sales director Mike Walsh said: "We feel customers in the region are crying out for a professional one-stop-shop for their car buying needs and that Carcraft can meet that demand with its innovative approach to used-car retailing."

The brownfield site, which is so large that golf buggies will be used to carry customers around, will serve the North-East and North Yorkshire.

Carcraft, which was established in 1951 and keeps more than 8,000 used cars in stock, has been looking for a site in the North-East for years.

It will be in direct competition with car retailer Carshock, which has sites in Gateshead and Darlington.

Richville announced in December it was opening a new and used car retail centre in the region, with the capacity for more than 700 cars.

The £10m Vroom centre will bring together eight car dealerships at the Silverlink Business Park.

A spokesman for Circle Red Properties, Richville's agent, said: "We have already secured four dealers for the site and are in talks with another four."

The centre will open in November, creating up to 100 jobs.